Fani Mokaiti, Selective Mutism in School. Relationships and Beliefs in Educational Context. A Case Study., Προσχολική & Σχολική Εκπαίδευση, 5|2017, 27-64

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder which prevents a child from speaking in specific social situations, while (s)he has the ability to do so. Children with selective mutism face important difficulties at school, as they lag behind in important expressive and social skills, facing great difficulties in the establishment of social relationships both with their teachers and with peers. Selective mutism, also, poses serious challenges for their educators who have to support and integrate these children in the educational process. The purpose of this qualitative research was to study, within the Greek educational context, various parameters that jointly shape the social and pedagogical relationships and interactions of an eleven-year-old child with selective mutism. For the purposes of this case-study, data were collected by means of (a) a sociometric test aimed to measure the popularity of this particular student, (b) two questionnaires aimed at collecting data on his verbal communication in varying social contexts, namely: a teacher report questionnaire, the “School Speech Questionnaire” (SSQ), as well as a parent report questionnaire, the “Selective Mutism Questionnaire” (SMQ), (c) semi-structured interviews with both the child’s caregivers and teachers, concerning his social interactions and participation in the educational process, as well as their personal views, strategies, difficulties and needs, and d) a direct non-participant observation of the child during the school breaks. Overall, the picture that emerges is that of a silent, reserved and ignored child at school, whose teachers feel that they do not have the appropriate knowledge and training to respond to his specific needs and to support him. Outside the educational context, he appears to be a typically developing child, maintaining verbal interactions with both his family and friends. Overall, this research shows various aspects of the life of a child with selective mutism highlighting the need for studying systematically the school life of children with selective mutism, especially in the Greek context, for fostering the relevant knowledge and skills of the educators, as well as for developing particular guidelines, strategies and tools that would help them support those children.

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