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Dear Dr. Silver,

My daughter is 4 years old and she does not speak to anyone except to us, her parents. She started going to preschool a little before age 3 and for nine months did not speak to the preschool teacher. We tried seeking help from the school district and they wanted to place her in a special program.

If she is with children who have disabilities, will she progress there? I am not sure that is the proper environment for her. I honestly think she needs more individual attention. Unfortunately, the preschool setting does not provide that. They usually have 24 kids with two teachers. What can I do in order to help my daughter open up, participate, and communicate with kids her age and other adults?

Please help.

Thank you,


Your daughter has what is called selective mutism. There are several possible causes. Have her evaluated by a child and adolescent psychiatrist. The interventions needed will be based on the reasons for her behavior. Don’t worry about the impact of one program or another on your daughter. Focus on the cause first.

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