All too often, children experiencing Selective Mutism are evaluated and placed into special education programs in public schools. It is assumed by Special Education school staff that these children will fare better in classrooms containing fewer students and more individual attention. It is on rare occasion that a Selectively Mute student will benefit from a special education setting.
Unfortunately, the majority of children who have been placed in Special Education can be found in programs for the Emotionally Disturbed and/or the Speech/Language Impaired. Many professionals fail to recognize that Selective Mutism is not linked to anything else. Selective Mutism is not a Learning disability, Emotional disturbance, nor a Speech/Language impairment. A Selectively Mute student who displays any of these conditions would then have an additional and separate education need.
In most cases, placement into Special Education settings has been ineffective or damaging, particularly with the Emotionally Disturbed program. As public schools generally do not have much information on how to help these children, special education teachers are no more equipped to assist these students than the general education teachers.
Professionals need to understand that Selective Mutism, like Tourette syndrome or Attention Deficit Disorder, can be dealt with in General Education classrooms by implementing a behavioral management plan.
A word about parents’ rights regarding their child’s educational programs – If your child is referred for an initial evaluation for possible Special Education services in a public school, you have the right to refuse testing if you do not agree with the referral. You do not need to consent to the evaluation, and you can, by law, refuse and if need be request a fair hearing at no cost to you. If you do consent to an evaluation and disagree with the results, you may, at your cost have a private evaluation conducted and considered by the school district.
You should by law, be given a Parent Handbook and a copy of Procedural Safeguards, which explains Special Education procedures and programs, as well as parent /guardian rights.
If you consent to have your child evaluated and later disagree with the results or recommendations for Special Education placement the same rights apply.
If your child is already attending a Special Education program and you are not satisfied, it is your right to request a staff meeting at ANY time to discuss your concerns and or request a change in placement. Be sure that your concerns are documented. A reevaluation of your child will be necessary in order to change or decertify him/her from a Special Education Program.
As Special Education program funding is partially funded through Federal funds, school staff must abide by Federal Laws and regulations.
We have provided a list of a few agencies where you can obtain help/information regarding Special Education, funding, laws, regulations, etc. You may find these in our related links section.