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Selective Mutism: Assessment and Intervention Strategies

presented by Gail J. Richard, PhD, CCC-SLP

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Target Audience:

Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Gail J. Richard receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. She also receives royalties from published materials with PRO ED (LinguiSystems) and is the author of The Source for Selective Mutism.

Non-Financial: Gail J. Richard serves on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Board of Directors as President (2017) and Past President (2018).

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

Accreditation Check:
Selective mutism occurs when an individual is capable of speaking and is verbal in at least one setting, but refuses to talk in public situations. Onset during preschool years usually masks an underlying communication problem that may be missed or classified as a psychiatric problem. This course will explain the presumed etiology and major characteristics of the disorder, and then address the role of the speech-language pathologist in assessment. General treatment options will be explained, with expansion in one particular treatment program for preschool and school-aged children. Prognosis for resolution of the disorder is enhanced with early identification and intervention.

Meet Your Instructor

Gail J. Richard, PhD, CCC-SLP

Gail J Richard, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, worked in the public schools in Iowa for four years before joining the faculty at Eastern Illinois University, where she has been for 35 years. She was Chair of the Department of Communication Disorders & Sciences for 14 of those years, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, and supervising in the…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Background Information

An early form of selective mutism was identified in 1877, but it wasn’t included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until the fourth edition, published in 1994. This chapter will discuss the evolving definition of selective mutism, presumed causes of the disorder supported in the research, and major characteristics in the disorder profile.

2. Assessment Procedures

Evaluating a child who is refusing to talk can be a bit intimidating and challenging, but can be managed in a professional manner that results in qualifying a child for services. This chapter will present informal and formal procedures that can be conducted in a variety of settings. The child’s level of engagement (verbal and/or nonverbal) will influence the extent of assessment procedures that will be possible.

3. Overview of Treatment Options

Treatment strategies are varied, based on the professional discipline involved in coordinating the therapy and presumed etiology. This chapter will provide an overview of the major treatment approaches and then focus on the common component in almost all of them: decreasing the individual’s anxiety through gradual and controlled exposure to speaking situations.

4. Communication Desensitization Treatment Program

This chapter covers a communication desensitization treatment program that has four phases: nonverbal, ghost/whisper, motor/voice, and generalization.

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