My Mentee was referred to the Communities in Schools Mentor Program because she is a selective mute. This is a speech disorder which means that though she can speak, she chooses not to in a social setting.
When we began meeting together at the beginning of the school year, we communicated by me asking simple questions and she would write her answers on a white board. After a few weeks she decided that she would like to start whispering our conversations, and we started to play games like Monopoly where she was always the banker. Then just before the winter break she told me that when we came back we could start speaking to one another.
I admit that I was worried all this time about her capabilities in school but have found that she gravitates towards math, and just the other day chose multiplication flash cards to play with as a game. We also read a Dr. Seuss book out loud to each other—she read one page and I read the other.
While she still will not always speak in class, she is making progress and answered a question the teacher asked. When I first started working with my Mentee I wasn’t sure how we were going to make this relationship work but I have seen her grow so much this year. She has gained so much confidence in herself by learning to trust just one adult.
I haven’t done all this alone, she also sees a therapist, but I believe that Mentoring has really helped her to feel like she can begin to speak to people in social situations. My hope is that we continue on this path for many years to come.