Our daughter is 6 years old and has Selective Mutism. She’s been in therapy since November of 2001. Her therapist is using ‘play therapy’ without drugs. Our daughter has progressed from no talking at all during sessions to talking openly with the therapist, but she still won’t talk to teachers, etc. Over the past couple of months it seems as though she has plateaued. Are there any other forms of therapy or treatments (short of drugs) that could help her progress through this disorder to a normal childhood quicker? The therapist seems to only want to use the play therapy, should we pursue a different therapist?
The answer is YES! There are other methods of treatment.
First and foremost, What is the therapist doing to help your child on the OUTSIDE, in social situations? If your therapist is NOT helping your child build coping skills and to accomplish various tasks OUTSIDE the office, then you need to educate her to SM and speak to her about ways to help your daughter deal with school, meeting people, etc. It is all fine and well that she is speaking to your therapist, but what about how to handle stressful situations in school?
You need direction and advice on how to help your child feel more comfortable at school (usually the toughest place for our kids!). Desensitization, Fading techniques, Modeling techniques, positive reinforcement, etc are wonderful ways to help your child. HOWEVER, understanding where your child is in terms of her anxiety dictates the specifics on the above techniques. I.E., if your child is so anxious that just walking into school with you produces ‘terror,’ then by offering her a sticker to say hello to her teacher will only petrify her more! Whereas, a child who can speak to many different kids, and who has whispered occasionally to her teacher, may be ready for that reinforcement to ‘say a word’ to her teacher. Every child is different and responds to tactics and techniques differently. You need a therapist who can READ your child and treat the WHOLE child, not just there MUTISM. You also need someone who can help your child COPE in various social situations—> REAL LIFE! Please speak to your therapist about this ASAP.