Selective Mutism

Selective Mutism (SM) is a diagnosis that refers to a person’s ability to speak fluently in some settings (e.g., at home) but not at all in others (e.g., at school). SM can seriously get in the way of children making friends, asking for help, learning, and playing. Its reasons for developing are often complex, as is the treatment, and many children benefit from getting professional support to address their SM. However, these books are a great starting point and can help a child and their caregivers to feel less alone and to have hope that the child’s voice will return.
Age range: Kindergarten through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: These books (there are two nearly identical versions–one featuring a girl, Lola, and one featuring a boy, Leo) are great for therapists to use with children with Selective Mutism (SM) as a way of destigmatizing the experience and of introducing the idea that there are different steps the child can take to work towards overcoming their SM. The books come with a website where you can print out paper dolls of the characters in the story, which I really love. Caregivers can read these books with a child at home, too, especially if they have a therapist they and their child are working with or if they’re already familiar with the techniques included in the books (e.g., making a worry box, diaphragmatic breathing). Also available in French.

Maya’s Voice

Written and illustrated by Wen-Wen Chang
Age range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Recommended for: This book helps to destigmatize Selective Mutism (SM) and to provide hope that it won’t last forever. Could be a good read for caregivers and their child with SM, or to read to a classroom to help other students understand and accept a child who isn’t speaking yet (but maybe leave out the page where a classmate pinches Maya because they know she won’t tell the teacher). This book is best for a child who won’t be turned off by Maya’s traditionally feminine interests (pink, princesses, playing house) and the description of her voice as “sweet.”
Age range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Evidence-Based Practices: Exposure