Creating Communication Confidence
Below are some of the possible presentations of SM - How SM will look will vary greatly between different children and between the social situations encountered by the individual child.
Sarah has just recently started school and speaks to all of her friends but doesnt speak to her teacher or any adults at the school. At home she is a boisterous child and speaks to family members, friends and even strangers at the park. Sarah isnt really aware of her difficulties at the moment and when asked why she doesnt speak to teachers at school she just shrugs her shoulders.
Mohammed is 7 years old and attends a mainstream school. He has a diagnosis of intellectual disability and the Speech Pathologist assessment shows that he has difficulties with understanding language and expressing himself in full sentences. At home Mohammed is confident with his brothers and family but can become quiet and hide behind mum when visitors come round. At school Mohammed will play with his classmates but doesnt talk to them and doesnt speak to his teachers or teachers aide. Mohammed will not use the toilet at school and also doesnt eat or drink despite being able to do these things at home.
Jack is 4 years old and has just started kindergarten. He speaks freely with friends and his kindergarten teacher and speaks to his mum, dad and sister at home but struggles to speak to his grandparents. Jack loves playing with his grandparents and is happy to stay over without his mum and dad but still never speaks to them in their house or in his own.
Isla has recently started high school. She did not speak to any of her teachers or friends in primary school and has been terrified about starting high school. Isla's parents have tried numerous different options to get Isla to talk and find it really frustrating as she is now falling behind in school. They keep providing opportunities for Isla to talk at school and home by trialling out different methods to coax and force Isla into speaking. Isla is now beginning to avoid talking at home too and the family dont know what to do. Since she has been talking less at home her behaviour has become worse, she is often having outbursts after school, she locks herself in her room and has started to bite the skin around her fingers repeatedly which is making her fingers bleed.
Lucy attends kindergarten and has always been a "shy" child. She struggled to seperate from mum when starting kindergarten and now 1 year on still has a ritual than mum must complete each day when dropping her at the gates. Lucy speaks to family members at home and has begun to speak to a neighbour since they got a new dog. Lucy has many rules that she will verbalise to adults about her communication e.g. she only sings at home and she only plays with two friends at kindergarten. If these two friends are not in she will become nauseous and often has to come home.
Steven attends high school and has a diagnosis of Autism. Steven can play on his computer but he struggles to complete most daily activities such as dressing, hairbrushing and showering so Mum helps him with these in the morning. He is often off school as he feels sick most mornings and at school he only has one friend who isnt in all of his lessons. Steven does not look at adults or peers in school. He tends to look down at his feet and can be really slow at getting started with any work task such as writing which often stops him from doing any work. He doesnt like loud noises and often cries when asked to walk to a lesson without his teachers aide. Steven does have a good sense of humour and often laugh silently when his teachers aide draws funny pictures or says funny things in the classroom.
These examples are fictional characters and not representative of any particular child. They are a collation of the different behaviours evidenced from children with SM and it is hoped that these examples provide insight into the wide range of presentations of SM. These presentations are not representative of all the types of presentation of SM.
The article below written by Michael Jones gives further descriptions of the presentation of a child with SM.