Since 2010, this page serves as a portal for
Selective Mutism parent support group of Ottawa
The group meets twice a year (in Fall and Spring) and provides support and information for parents living in Ottawa area.
You can join the group by sending email to "alexandra AT ivim DOT ca" .
You can also find a lot of related resources at the Canadian Selective Mutism Portal established in 2012 ( or recently created  page at CHEO (

 Thank you for visiting our Selective Mutism awareness site!

 Merci d'avoir visitée notre page de Mutisme Sélectif !

This site was originally set in 2008.  Back then, there was very little information on the web about SM, so we created this site to help our teachers, friends, as well as doctors and specialists to learn more about it.

Now there's much information on internet on this subject - just search Google or Youtube! So this page is left here to provide a point of contact for  parents seeking help in Ottawa area. Dont' hesitate to contact us! 

Alexandra and Dmitry

Ce site web etais cree en automn 2008. À l'époque, il y avait très peu d'information sur le web à propos de SM , donc nous avons créé ce site pour aider nos enseignants, les amis, ainsi que des médecins et des spécialistes pour en savoir plus à ce sujet la.

Maintenant, il y a beaucoup d'information sur Internet à ce sujet - il suffit de chercher sur Google ou Youtube !
Alors, cette page est laissée ici pour fournir un point de contact pour les parents cherchent de l'aide dans la région d'Ottawa. Dont ' hésitez pas à nous contacter!

Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate in social settings such as school.  SM children are able to speak  and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure and relaxed. Children with Selective Mutism have often social phobia or social anxiety.  This disorder is quite debilitating and painful to the child.  Children and adolescents with Selective Mutism have an actual FEAR of speaking and of social interactions where there is an expectation to speak and communicate.

References (In English): 

Le mutisme sélectif est un trouble anxieux de l’enfance caractérisé par une incapacité régulière de l’enfant à parler dans des situations sociales spécifiques, telle que l’école.  Toutefois, l’enfant est apte à parler dans d’autres situations où il se sent confortable.  Le mutisme sélectif se caractérise par une timidité paralysante lorsque l’enfant doit parler dans des situations spécifiques. L’enfant devient souvent dénué d’expression et d’émotion et est souvent isolé socialement. 

Resources (en français): 

DO's and DONT' of SM.

These DO's and DONT's have been obtained  from our own experience (with a 2-6 year old SM child). These can also be found from other sources (such as mentioned above) and professional advice.

Three basic rules to approach a SM child:

  1. Rule #1 - Most Important. Never initiate verbal communication with a SM child (such as "How are you?..", "What's your name?", "What a nice hat you have" etc). Either ignore her or talk to others around her, but never look or talk directly to her!
  2. Rule #2 - When in a company with other children, while not directly aiming at her, do offer her (with other children) the ways to laugh or make any foolish or joyful sounds. If she makes ANY sound, it means that You or/and This place are accepted into the circle of people with whom she CAN talk. But continue as normal (without switching attention to her).
  3. Rule #3 - Inform other parents, because unfortunately, it is characteristic of our culture to think of no talking as impolite.
  + DO - DON'T
1 Understand that a child with SM is not under-developed. In fact, due to theis focused work,  she is often more advanced than her many single-person activities (music, sports, creativity, schooling).   It's the socializing and communicational skill that is most affected . Don't  treat her  less developed than she is. E.g. Don't leave her in kindergarten, when she's ready for school. (See also 4)
2 Once you notice she will not reply (or say or do) as you want her to,  switch the topic and/or  the focus of attention to someone else. Never force - neither by "candy" (asking) nor by "whip" (intimidating) !
3 (for parents) Do as many routines with her as possible. The more challenging, the better. Gradually, With other people, different people. On a regular basis. Eg: car-pool with your friends or go camping together (for several days!) Switching her visitors/friends too often is not good. 
4 (teachers): Find this "little door (trick)" though which she can she can participate Example: If she can't speak, play with animal sounds. If she's not ready for  any sounds yet, make her laugh, or make sounds with a toy-trumpets or tambur (drum). But do this  with the entire class (not specifically for her). Use cards (or token) to help to start communication. etc ... If a class routine is established and this routine does not allow for opening her "personal little door", it will unlikely be  ever possible for her to ever open up and speak here.
5 (advice from psychologist) Mix her with children of the same type, who are also timid and shy (eg. Isabelle)
Mix with children, who are easy on making noise and fooling around - (see 4)
6 * If you came to talk to parents - talk to parents! (not to her!) Once Mila realizes that a new person is our old friend, she relaxes and behaves as normal.
Adults, please remember, young children, by default, are shy and don't require your attention! Although it does please us, adults, to silly-billy with little ones whom we even don't know.
Once she realizes that a visitor's goal is to catch her attention, she'll close.
In daycares/school, teachers, please! - after saying "Hello child" go to the next person. Don't expect a young child to reply!
 7 Think about Home schooling. Do school activities (e.g. singing/counting) at home
TODO: Be prepared - know school program, request songs lyrics in advance, so that you can help your child recall everything from the class.
Don't make her feel tired. Take from school earlier.
 8 (for parents) Shift attention from "not talking" to "doing gestures" . If she accepts, ask her to learn/do more gestures at school, as "this builds the muscles" Never ask "will you ever talk?" - She'll reply "Never". 
9 Mix her with younger children who a) need care from her, b) who don't talk as glibly as native french speakers of her age  

Final update: January 2015