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Questions for Discussion: 'Why Jacob Won't Talk' - featured April 25, 2011

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Discussion Questions for "Why Jacob Won't Talk" - a Selective Mutism Case Study

Questions By: Gail Kervatt M. Ed.

The following questions for discussion have been written to help engage classrom discussion on Selective Mutism.

Read and/or Print the article 'Why Jacob Won't Talk,' from People Magazine Through this Link

Questions for Discussion
  1. What circumstances would prevent Jacob from being diagnosed with SM at an earlier age?
  2. What professionals might have recognized and/or diagnosed this disability?
  3. Where might Jacob have found help at an earlier age?
  4. How can parents help an anxious child?
  5. How can family members be of help?
  6. Name some reactions to Jacob’s behaviors that parents, families and teachers should avoid.
  7. Why do you feel teachers avoid alerting parents?
  8. Who should provide the most valuable intervention for an SM child; a mental health professional or specialized school personnel? Why?
  9. Discuss the pros and cons of using medication.
  10. Why is it more important to focus an intervention on reducing anxiety rather than producing speech?
  11. Name some non-verbal activities that could be used early in an intervention.
  12. Why would “goals” be important for an older SM child?
  13. In what ways can you help to educate and/or train educators to provide or be a part of accommodations and an intervention?

Featured Websites: and

We would like to thank both and the SMart Center for these discussion questions and for allowing us to link to this featured article.

Selective is the website of Gail Kervatt, M. Ed, the author of these discussion questions and the author of The Silence Within, A Teacher/Parent Guide to Helping Selective Mute and Shy Children. Mrs. Gail Kervatt is a retired educational specialist who served in the public school system for twenty-five years. She holds a Master of Education Degree and New Jersey Reading Specialist certification. She has been a teacher for twenty-nine years and a member of the International Reading Association. She has had articles published in various reading and speech and language journals. is the website the SMartCenter, a comprehensive treatment and research Center focused exclusively on the anxiety disorder, Selective Mutism in young children and teenagers. The center is directed by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum.

Tags: Questions for Discussion Selective Mutism Newsletter 29 April 2011 Case Study Questions