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What is selective mutism?

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that can cause children to freeze up and be unable to speak in certain settings (ex: school) even when their speech is normal in other, more familiar settings (ex: home).​

Selective mutism is frequently accompanied by social anxiety, which means a general feeling of anxiety related to social situations.

When left untreated, children are likely to develop avoidance habits so they won't need to speak up. Unfortunately the avoidance behavior can get continually reinforced over time when others assume they will not speak and begin to speak for them which causes it to be increasingly difficult to break out of this cycle. For these reasons, early intervention is highly recommended.

How do you treat selective mutism?

Standard play therapy or talk therapy are generally NOT the interventions of choice for selective mutism. Even if the child succeeds in speaking to a therapist in their office, this will likely not carry over into other settings where speech is more difficult for them.

We use a specific, evidence-based, behavioral approach (PCIT-SM, developed by Dr. Steven Kurtz) which includes extensive parent and teacher training. The child is prompted and encouraged to speak through gradual exposure exercises. The prompts are presented in a way that sets the child up for success with incremental small goals. We use generous praise and rewards to encourage brave speech. As the child progresses, we raise the challenge level of the daily and weekly speaking goals.


Sessions may consist of some or all of the following:

1. Parent training followed by parent/child sessions, for parents to practice the intervention skills in real time. 

2. Zoom training to school staff and other involved professionals.

3. In school therapy sessions for child exposures as well as to provide in person coaching for teachers (based on location and availability).

4. Continued coaching follow-up support for parents and school staff. 

5. Intensive group and "camp" programs for kids to practice their speaking goals in a group (based on availability).

Summer and group intensive Programs

Returning for our second summer!!

Ask about Mighty Kids Miami, an intensive therapy camp for kids with selective mutism coming this July 2024. 

Winter 2024: Contact us to hear about our Sunday group programming for kids with selective mutism.

Are you a parent or therapist interested in hearing about other groups and intensives we will be offering?

Click below to subscribe to our e-mail list,

to receive e-mails about any upcoming programs and offers.

Anchor 1
Anchor 2

Parents of 3.5 year old

“Our daughter is a vivacious talkative happy child at home but was stoic and anxious in school and other social situations. We are overjoyed to have found Deetza and been able to have her work with our daughter, her teachers, and us as parents to learn the skills and tools to enable the kid we know and love to share her gifts with her friends. As parents, it was the first time we felt seen and supported in this journey to help our daughter. Deetza is a real partner who is invested in our daughter’s success. Within months our daughter began talking in school and sharing her gifts with everyone there.” 

Parents of 7 year old girl

"Working with Deetza Franklin was a great experience for our daughter, who has SM. Ms. Franklin was able to work with her at her school, show us and the teachers effective ways to help facilitate speech for our daughter, as well as advise on appropriate drug therapy. As a result, our daughter went from not talking at all in school—or to many others outside of family—to making multiple friends in school and talking with teachers, her speech therapist, and other students in her class While more progress needs to be made (she still doesn't talk to everyone as we'd like), we look forward to continuing to work with Ms. Franklin and highly recommend her for anyone dealing with an SM child."

Second Grade Teacher

"Mrs. Franklin frequently visited our school and educated teachers about the disorder. She discussed the myths about selective mutism and gave teachers tips on how to approach the student with the disorder.

Mrs. Franklin used praise and reinforcement.. to encourage the student to interact with other students and teachers.

She used the term 'practice brave talking' to help build confidence in the student with selective mutism.

Overall, the student in my class has made tremendous progress and is now speaking with all teachers and is comfortable speaking with some classmates. She is socializing in different situations. For example, she was reading a story she wrote to two friends in another class."

Ariella Mally, M.S. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

"This program really works! I saw my student transform from a shy girl who didn't speak to others to a leader amongst her peers. She has a renewed sense of confidence and engages with those around her."

Parents of 4 year old girl

"We are so grateful to have found such a qualified and goal oriented therapist to work with our preschool-aged child. Initially, when we discovered that our child had selective mutism, we could not find a therapist who specialized in selective mutism, and we saw no progress during the entire year our child worked with another therapist.  Thankfully, we found out about Deetza, and we have seen tremendous progress during the months that she has been working with our child once a week. Our child has overcome the selective mutism and is now working only on improving the social anxiety aspect. Relatives who we hadn’t seen in a long time commented at how far our child has come. We have been so impressed with Deetza’s communication with us, our child’s teachers, and the school staff. When Deetza sends reports to us on our child’s progress, they are thorough and goal oriented on what the next thing to work on will be.  And as a bonus, our child loves when Deetza comes to school-it’s the highlight of the week."

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