Most high schools require seniors to do volunteer work to graduate. This is an excellent opportunity for the Selective Mutism teen to gain self-confidence. It’s a great avenue for them to gain valuable skills in a field they may be interested in pursing later in life. As the teen gets involved in serving in the community it helps foster independence and develop self-esteem as they become confident with their new skills. Most organizations and businesses welcome teen volunteers as they sponsor specific programs just for them. Some may start as early as 14 years of age. The younger you start the more experience you gain. Teens can volunteer during the summer months, after school for a couple hours a week or during the winter/spring breaks. Volunteering is a great way to get out in the work force and explore different careers before obtaining employment in a field they may not like.
Some excellent organizations to contact but not limited to include:
Childcare Centers – Everybody loves little kids and it’s easy to interact with them, as you usually don’t have to engage in a lot of talk with the little ones.
Nursing Homes – The volunteer can help with bingo nights or holiday parties. The older generation love company and share a lot of old time stories. This generation usually does most of the talking as you learn a lot about history. They enjoy having company and a listener!
Veterinary Hospital – Who doesn’t love working with pets? They don’t demand that you talk to them-just love on them! Pets are a sure way to get a child to talk more spontaneously and sure to bring a smile.
Elementary Schools – Teens can volunteer to read to the younger children. The Selective Mutism teen may need space in a corner away from the other classmates so they are one on one with the child (instead of reading to the whole class).
Hospitals – Teens can volunteer on the nursing floors or other area of interest like radiology, lab, etc. You can ask to work on a specific floor.
National Organizations like American Cancer Society, National Kidney Foundation and Optimist Clubs of America, etc usually have local annual walk a thons. The volunteer can help by passing out water to the walkers. Also, Special Olympics usually ask for teen volunteers to help with their annual relay games.
Be creative and call any business or organization in your area to see if they participate in teen volunteers.