Selective Mutism

Published Date: 05 July 2021 10:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Hany Soh, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) for the past five years, how many students have been suffering from selective mutism; and (b) what are the support systems available for these students.

Response

1. Over the past five years (2016 – 2020), we have on average about 260 students (or less than 0.1% of our student population) reported to experience selective mutism in our mainstream schools.

2. Students who are diagnosed with selective mutism by healthcare professionals are supported in the following ways in our schools:

  1. In the classroom, our teachers allow more "warm up" time to ease them into lessons, such as have them arrive early, allowing for practice time before entering into a large group. Teachers also provide them with alternative modes of responding in the classroom to encourage participation, e.g. by writing or using visual cues, or using technology such as WhatsApp and Padlet. During examinations that require speaking or presentations, special accommodations can be provided so that these students are not penalised for their inhibition in speaking.
  2. The School Counsellors and Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support) also support the students. They work with the parents and teachers to guide students to identify their anxiety and develop strategies to cope.
  3. Students with selective mutism also benefit from peer support. Groups of peers are commonly formed in schools to provide circles of friendship and emotional support, and provide interventions to help children face their fears and manage anxiety.
  4. Schools also tap on the Response, Early Intervention, Assessment in Community mental Health (REACH) teams to further support these students.
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