Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Laurel Bidwell


Social Work


Children with selective mutism (SM) within the school setting bring forth a unique and challenging set of characteristics and issues for teachers and support staff. Children with selective mutism have an overwhelming fear of being seen or heard speaking, which presents as a challenge in assessing students for knowledge and content within the school setting (Perednik 2011.) There are many different causes for general mutism such as trauma, severe neglect, foster placement, etc. However for the purposes of this paper, selective mutism is the sole focus which effects young people. Selective mutism is categorized as an anxiety disorder and a variant of a social phobia (Black & Uhde, 1992). This qualitative study explored professional clinician’s ideas about interventions and strategies that are most effective in working with selectively mute children. Interventions within the school setting and how those interventions are informed and utilized amongst support staff and teachers to support children with selective mutism in overcoming their fear of speaking outside of the home is the main focus within this research. Using qualitative interviews, information was gathered about professionals’ perceptions of best practice interventions used with selectively mute children. This research contributes to enhanced knowledge and confidence among educators in addressing children’s unique needs with selective mutism through the use of behavioral and cognitive behavioral techniques, psychodynamic, family systems, multimodal, and psychopharmacological interventions that were suggested for work toward overcoming this disorder. The research proved that there is a vast amount of literature that already exists, however there is a lot of education that is still needed in order to be effective in teaching children with selective mutism. The research supports a need for professional development and psychoeducation for classroom teachers, special educators, speech clinicians, school social workers, and support staff.

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Social Work Commons