Individualized Learning Plan
for a Child Who Cannot Speak Due to Selective Mutism
Academic Background: Kegan is a very smart child, He works very well on his own and catches on quickly. Kegan is not fond of group work or speaking and reading with classmates or the previous teacher. At recess you often find Kegan playing alone with his action figures. He gets very overwhelmed in school when he is forced to speak to people in a chaotic environment.
Non Academic Background: Kegan is a healthy six year old in 1st grade. Kegan will talk normally at home, for instance, or when alone with his parents, but cannot speak at all, or speak above a whisper, in other social settings like at school, in public, or at extended family gatherings. The Parents often think Kegan is willful and refuses to speak, or speak loud enough to be heard, but Kegan experiences it as an inability. It can cause Kegan severe distress—he can’t communicate even if he is in pain, or, say, needs to use the bathroom. He often excuses himself from participating in school and other age-appropriate activities. Kegan comes from a very loving family that is very cooperative. Kegan loves superheroes he has several in his backpack that he plays with on the bus and at recess. His favorite superhero is superman, if he could pick one super power it would be to fly!
Teacher Student Connections
- Get to know Kegan in an accepting manner. See if it is possible to visit Kegan in his own home before the school year begins because his home is his safety net.
- Have his parents bring him in early in the morning and talk to him in an informal manner. Have him help me set up the room for day or set up for activities. this wonderful way to connect without the pressure of direct questioning.
- Talk to Kegan about his action figures and his favorite superhero superman.
- Find ways to incorporate his love of superheroes in the lesson plan or activities.
Student to Student Connections
- Allow Kegan to pick one student every day that he feels comfortable with and allow both of them to go sit in Kegan’s safe place and have an open time where they can play with his action figures.
- As time progresses and he gets more comfortable allow him to keep picking more children to come back and play with him. This way he can ease into the situation in a safe environment.
- Have Kegan pick one person in the room to be his buddy. His buddy will help assist Kegan through out the day. This allows Kegan to Connect with another student and have someone he can lean on to relieve some anxiety
Motivational Strategies for Learning and Promoting Positive Behavior
- Allow Kegan to have a safe place designated to him in the classroom so that he can go to take a break if he is feeling overwhelmed.
- Allow Kegan to play with his action figures as a reward if he uses his words throughout the day.
- Instead of just saying "Great job!" I will be specific: "Great job telling us you brought lunch!" This way Kegan know exactly what he being praised for, and he will feel motivated to keep doing it.
- I will wait 5 seconds for Kegan to respond to questions. We often don't give kids enough time to respond. Waiting five seconds without repeating the question. It also helps kids learn to tolerate their anxiety.
- Ask Kegan questions that prompt verbal response. Instead of asking questions that can be answered with a yes or no—or, more often, nodding or shaking her head—ask a question that is more likely to prompt a verbal response. Try giving Kegan choices ("Would you like a puppy sticker or a star sticker?") or asking more open-ended questions ("What should we play next?").
- Practice echoing with Kegan. Repeat or paraphrase what the Kegan is saying. This is reinforcing and lets him know that he been heard and understood. Since Kegan often speaks very quietly, repeating what he say also helps him participate in class.
- Have a set routine for the day that way he has no anxiety about what is happening next. Make sure he knows ahead of time if there are any changes in the routine or a visitor coming.
- Allow Kegan to use hand signals if he needs to use the restroom, get a drink, or has a question that way he doesn't have to draw attention to himself when he needs something from me.
- Reading – When testing Kegan on his reading skills I will let him sit in his safe place in the classroom with just me and him in the room that way he will not feel intimidated reading out loud while other students are in the room. I will give him a timed reading test but will not stress the test part just let him freely read to me so he feels comfortable. I will record his progress on a chart flagging all the words missed pronounced.
- Math – I will give Kegan a small white board and marker to write down his answer so that way he will not be afraid to answer questions in front of the class if he know the answer he can write it down and show it to me. Then I will record his progress.
- General Assessment – At the end of each day I will have Kegan go and sit in his safe place in the room and I will have him tell me the best part of his day, the worst part of his day and three things he learned that day. This allows me to connect more with Kegan and allows him to open up and talk to me. It also lets me know what he is getting out of the lessons and if he understanding or has any questions.
- Teacher Student Connections – Sit down with each one of my students and get to know them find out their favorite thing or their hobbies that way we can connect with each other and have something to talk about.
- Student to Student Connection – Allow my students once a month to bring a show in tell for the class so the class can engage in what their peers are doing outside of school and get to know each other.
- Motivational Strategies – Keep a marble jar on my desk every time the kids do something good academically or behavior wise add a marble into the jar. If they are not behaving then remove a marble from the jar. When the jar is completely full let the kids pick a fun activity or surprise for the next day for the reward. This promotes good behavior and lets the kids know I do notice when they are doing something good.
- Teaching Strategies – Allow all the kids use the same hand signals Kegan uses to get my attention that way no one is disrupting the class during the lesson.
- Assessment- At the end of the day have each student tell one other person in the room three things they learned during the day.