ERASMUS (KA2) Small scale partnership
Title of the project: Inclusive schools for children with selective mutism (SM)
Promoter of the project: Associazione Italiana Mutismo Selettivo (AIMUSE)
Associazione Italiana Mutismo Selettivo is a non profit organisation created in 2009 whose principal aim is spreading awarness about SM. For this reason, it organises events and training courses for parents, teachers and specialists.
What Selective Mutism is
Selective mutism (SM) is an anxiety disorder characterized by an inability to speak or communicate in certain settings. The condition is usually first diagnosed in childhood and, if left untreated, can persist into adulthood. Children who are selectively mute fail to speak in specific social situations, such as at school or to relatives they do not see very often.
It is estimated that less than 1% of children have SM.
The disorder often is not discovered until a child first starts going to school and his teacher notices that something is wrong. Parents might not realize their child has trouble speaking around other people since talking is not a problem at home. Or they may think that their child is shy, but not realize just how impairing their child’s anxiety really is.
This disorder is quite debilitating and painful to the child. Not all children manifest their anxiety in the same way. Kids who have SM might only be able to speak in a whisper to teachers or peers. Others might not even be able to manage a whisper, and might go the entire school year without speaking once. Children with SM may not be able to answer questions in class, even when they know the correct response, and they may struggle to ask for help or initiate conversations. Many children with SM cannot ask to use the bathroom, and may go hours or the whole day without using the bathroom (or may have accidents). Some children may freeze, be expressionless, unemotional and may be socially isolated.
An early intervention is important
Early childhood educators play a unique role in helping to identify SM, given that symptoms often do not occur in the home environment. Early recognition and treatment of selective mutism can have a profound effect on prognosis; therefore, it is important for educators to understand the difference between shy behavior and symptoms of SM.
Many schools are unfamiliar with SM, so the aim of this project is to provide information to educators and teachers as well as strategies to help children to overcome their problem.
Aim of the project
The aim of this project is to provide an educational environment suitable for the inclusion and integration of children with SM.
- comparing National Legislations on inclusive Education and Special Educational Needs of People with SM in the different Member States Partners of the project;
- Activities aimed at raising awareness of SM in the schools involved: seminars, workshops; the targets are educators, teachers, students and parents. (Involving all the students and their parents aims to prevent the bullying of children with SM.)
- Training course on SM with the purpose to include all the teachers in the geographical area where the participating schools are located;
- Sharing experience and good practices on methods to detect, treat and raise awareness of SM with European partners;
- Publication of a common guide for teachers to be translated in all the languages of the partners involved (other than EN -FR- DE).
-Preparation of an informative and awareness video-documentary to spread information using social media (in different languages or with subtitles).
Profile of European partners sought
- Parents’ Association
- Teachers’ association