SSP ASSOCIATE’S NAME & DISCIPLINE: Ali Peacock, Calming Minds Ltd, Taupo, New Zealand

CLIENT BACKGROUND: Susan, ten year old female who has shown symptoms of very debilitating Selective Mutism (SM) all her life

THERAPY USED: The Safe & Sound Protocol (SSP) for 5 consecutive days

Susan has been slightly known to me for two years. During occasional meetings she would generally hide in her bedroom, and had never spoken to me. On presentation at the clinic Susan was also in what I would term “frozen” mode. Susan is also home schooled as she was the target of bullies and was punched at the original primary school. (When Mum complained, the school Principal claimed Susan has “asked for it” by her behavior). Susan had also been told she was “dumb” by the teachers.

No previous therapies or interventions had been used due to not being available in New Zealand. No formal aims were set, beyond a “let’s see what happens” approach. No other therapies were used during that week.

SUMMARY OF CHANGES: 

Susan attended the clinic in Taupo for one hour per day, over five days for the SSP listening therapy, mostly with just me in attendance. On the journey to the clinic Susan had asked Mum to stay too but once she arrived Susan was OK staying with me. During the first four days of listening Susan would mainly draw, again with no eye contact, but gradually moved to pointing to what she wanted, which was a big step forward. At the beginning of the fifth day she too wanted to play the game I had played with Steve, (having seen it laid out on the desk) and that started a major and rapid change. Susan began to talk (nearly non-stop) was telling me the moves I was “allowed” to make, and how many points I could have – less than her. I am not sure how much actual listening got done on that day, but at this point it does not seem to matter.

After finishing her therapy that day Susan went to visit a kindy where her young brother was spending the morning and told the teacher there (whom she had never met) all about her pets and the farm she lives on, plus a multitude of facts. She ended up reading a story to the little children who were present – apparently her idea. Mum phoned me that night with the words “I have a problem – how do I stop Susan talking?” Seems she has ten years of catching up to do.

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