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School Psychology/Selectively Mute Child/Gifted/ Placed in EBD Self-contained

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My daughter 8/5/13
My daughter 8/5/13  

My daughter age10
My daughter age10  
"My daughter was placed in a self-contained classroom because she has (Selective Mutism). She did not speak to anyone in preschool, but now she is in 7th grade and speaks to some children and adults that she has known from last year-but briefly. I have video taped her at home where she is the life of the party to show to teachers and they are shocked. In fact, she talks too much at home. However, she never asks for help or questions teachers. She was involved in a fight after a student deliberately stepped on her shoes in March 2013. Although she did not start the fight, her school expelled her and sent her to an alternative school for the remainder of the year. (As a result of the school's Zero tolerance policy) She stayed out of school for 1 month since there were no avail slots. She just got her CRCT test scores back and she exceeded in Reading and missed only 1 on the Math.(Her current special ed teacher was amazed) She passed Science & Social Studies  with average test scores comparable to students on her grade level. But, she missed a ton of instruction her 6th grade year. So, it is amazing that she did so well. Now she has returned to her home school. They are starting her over in self-contained with no classes out, but giving her an opportunity to earn classes out. School started Aug 5, 2013. They have told her that she can only earn elective classes out if she scores 1500 points weekly. They know she is smart, she has never harmed herself, but she can get an attitude from time to time. She has told me that she is extremely bored in this class and they do nothing of substance all day in this self-contained environment. (She has to eat lunch in that class as well) My concern is that she will get behind; especially in math and her core classes-that bothers me immensely.

What do you suggest that I do as a parent..? I have been active and attending all meetings and clearly expressing my concerns as an advocate for my child.(Selective mutism is so rare that no one seems to have any experience dealing w/it. Seems to me that they put her in self-contained EBD because they don't know what to do.   Thanks in advance! I have attached a pic of my daughter as well."

Answer
Hi Lela,
Your daughter is beautiful! I'm so sorry you are having difficulties with the school. First, selective mutism by itself is NOT a reason for special education at all, let alone a self contained setting. Assuming that there are not significant other behavior and emotional concerns, she should not be in a self contained classroom. You have a few options. The first thing I would recommend is to call an IEP meeting immediately. Discuss your concerns and request a "less restrictive placement." Unless there are legitimate reasons beyond the selective mutism, she should be able to attend all of her classes in the general education setting. If you are not being heard, you have the right to decline special education services all together. This would mean that she no longer had an IEP and would receive no services through special education. If you go that route, I would recommend that you request a 504. That is protection for individuals with a disability who do not meet requirements for special education. She would be protected but spend all of her time in general education. Finally, it sounds as if the school needs some education on selective mutism and how to work with these kids. I would recommend taking some literature with you including tips for teachers. Especially important is the fact that teachers must refrain from putting her on the spot by asking her to talk. There are plenty of other ways to communicate. And lastly, some unsolicited advice: if you haven't already, I would recommend getting your daughter into treatment with a therapist who is familiar with selective mutism.
Best of luck to you. I would love to hear back from you about how it all turns out. Feel free to follow up if you have further questions.
Morgan  

School Psychology

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Morgan Potts

Expertise

I can answer most questions related to psychological evaluations including an explanation of the scores and the assessment measures. I can also answer most questions regarding special education eligibility, response to intervention (RtI), and recommendations and interventions for specific areas of disability including intellectual disability, learning disability, emotional and behavioral disorders, other health impaired, autism, and pervasive developmental disorder. I can also answer questions regarding Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and parent rights.I cannot determine if a child has a disability or not based on anecdotal information or assessment scores. I can also answer questions regarding the profession of School Psychology. I can tell you what School Psychologists actually do. I can also tell you about educational requirements though these differ somewhat by state.

Experience

As a graduate student, I interned at a psychoeducational facility for students with severe emotional and behavioral disorders as well as other disorders including specific learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and autism. Following my internship, I was hired full-time there as a school psychologist and worked there for several years. Since then I have worked as a regular school psychologist in a district mostly completing psychological evaluations and consulting with the Student Support Team (SST). I currently work as a contract psychologist for several metro Atlanta counties.

Organizations
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) The Student Support Team Association for Georgia Educators (SSTAGE)

Education/Credentials
My undergraduate degree is from the University of Georgia in Psychology. I have an M.Ed. and Ed.S. from Georgia State University. I recently completed my Educational Leadership Certificate at West Georgia University.

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