11th Annual SENCo Conference
A Workshop Presentation
Leslie Crew Deputy Head and SENCo
Jane Crocker Teaching Assistant
Sonia Hilton Educational Psychologist
Involvement of Services
Referral to Emotional and Trauma Support (ETS) in
March 2006 when V was in Year 1
This led to the involvement of ETS Coordinator
following a pastoral care programme (Silent Children
video and workbook) which ended in course of Year 2 in
Referral to Speech and Language Therapy in June
2007: report completed in November 2007
Parental referral via GP in CAMHS/Clinical Psychology
at Booth Hall early in 2008 (school unaware)
Further enquiry to Emotional and Trauma Support
January 2008
First Steps
Historical concerns and
Present concerns
School’s senior
management team
Lead TA/Mentor
To establish the
viability of an
School-linked SLT
Clinical Psychologist…a little later
Map: a careful assessment of
the settings in which a child speaks
A member of school staff who has
established substantial rapport with
the child
A key setting/room in school for
talking/speech activities/meetings
Establish the team:
Educational Psychologist
Agree a start date
Our child ‘V’ (d.o.b: 02.03.2000)
International New Arrival from Lithuania when nursery age
Home languages: Lithuanian, Ukranian, Russian, Polish
Began to attend Harpur Mount PS in Reception year (2004-2005);
previously attended a nursery in London
Background: communication
Vocalises at home (mainly Lithuanian) with family members
Absence of vocal communication with adults and children in school
Some limited non-verbal communication in school
No concerns regarding understanding and use of language;
competent in both Lithuanian and English (SLT report 2007)
Our child… ‘V’ (d.o.b: 02.03.2000)
Background: other factors
No sensory or physical difficulties
No apparent learning or wider social communication
Key stage 1 summative assessment:
Writing 2c Numeracy 1
Unable to assess ready accuracy and
Eating and toileting difficulties and possible separation
difficulties noted in the past
Noticed to have two friends (girls)
Talking Map
A behavioural approach to SM to reduce anxiety
Stimulus fading/sliding in technique
This enabled us to build on situations where child
was already speaking
A small steps / hierarchical approach
A systematic progression changing one variable at
a time:
a common and consistent approach across the school
Classification of activities:
communication load
rote language
economical – yes/no
no risk of getting
it wrong
rehearsed speech/
elicited speech
giving alternatives or
Wh? questions – giving
options or ideas
unsure if the answer is
unplanned speech/initiation
of speech
Stages of confident speaking
Ensure that the child is an active partner
throughout the process – shared target setting
(later) respecting her preferences
Sustain ways of talking with the child which
acknowledge anxieties and help the child to be
comfortable with small steps telling the child
exactly what will happen – use of a comfort scale
Try to make the intervention programme
enjoyable and create an expectation that it will
be fun
Comfort Scale
Stages of
Intervention plan/goals 1
V talks with mother at home and in the car on the
journey to school, but stops talking at the school
Extend speech with mother to:
the school playground
the target room in school
Mother ‘slides in’ Jane (to become key worker), by
overhearing from outside the room; entering and
eventually joining in.
When V is comfortable to use speech with Jane,
mother is withdrawn
Intervention plan/goals 2
Jane repeats the same activities in different
settings in school
Jane becomes the trusted conversational
partner/key worker who can be used to ‘slide in’
others and to establish speech in different settings
in school using a small steps approach
2 or 3 times a week
Review with parent each half terms to build up
the talking map/ matrix to reflect home,
community and school.
Talking Map
Talking Map
Make a talking map/matrix as a baseline
Go straight into a programme to establish speech with the
child – avoidance of speaking will perpetuate the reluctance
to speak
Use a small steps approach having regard to the hierarchical
stages of confident speaking and communication load
Use a behavioural approach –sliding in- is reported to
be easier - to reduce anxiety
Tell the child exactly what is going to happen ; remove
all anxiety triggers and gauge level of comfort, using a
10 point comfort scale
Too anxious to speak?
• Recent research has focused on the link between anxiety
and SM
• SM is thought of as a social phobia; or a symptom of excessive
social anxiety; or a specific phobia linked to expressive speech
• High incidence of co-occurring difficulties in the domains of
cognition, motor functioning and language development
• Thus it is important to consider all possible subsets of SM in
order to make individualised interventions for each child
Hayley Cleave, 2009.
Final points…
Please spend 5
minutes thinking
about the following
and make a few
notes on each
point. . .
Schools are well placed to
support a child with SM.
How does your school
currently support a child
with SM? What else would
you like to be able to do?
What are the potential
barriers to your being able
to develop these ideas ?
What are the facilitators?
The Selective Mutism Resource Manual. Maggie Johnson &
Alison Wintgens, Speechmark ISBN 0-86388-280-3.
Thank you!