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Recent presentation at Saratoga Springs school highlights rare disorder

Speaking out on mutism

Dr. Alan J. Barnett, a psychologist from Clifton Park, presenteda workshop on selective mutism on February 7 for the Saratoga Springs CitySchool district.

Dr. Alan J. Barnett, a psychologist from Clifton Park, presenteda workshop on selective mutism on February 7 for the Saratoga Springs CitySchool district.

Criteria for the diagnosis include situational refusal, (where achild may talk with only certain family members for instance, and refuse totalk with others) and normal speech or language in the absence of another disorder.

Barnett explained, “The condition is at the confluence of two disorders. Pragmatic language skills and social anxiety disorders.”

He gave information on intervention plans to help children with the disorder and many techniques for treatment.

A recent survey conducted by the SSCSD’s Office of Pupil Services revealed a positive view of the department’s work. This was a state-mandated survey of parents of students with disabilities and according to Pupil Services Director Deborah Balcanoff, 700 surveys were sent out, with 132 being completed and returned. As far as surveys go, that was a better than expected return rate.

“We were pleased by the response…we’re always trying to do a good job and realize that parents want to do what is best for their children,”said Balcanoff.

Of the surveys returned to Pupil Services, 96.2 percent gave positive responses.

“The school district excelled in the category of partnering with parents in the development of Individualized Education Programs and in the determination of services for students,” stated Maureen Dana, a spokeswoman for the district in a recent email.

The district also participates in Child Find, a continuous process of public awareness activities, screening and evaluation designed to locate, identify and refer as early as possible all young children with disabilities and their families who are in need of Early Intervention Programor Preschool Special Education services of the Individuals with DisabilitiesEducation Act.

Formore information on Pupil Services at the district, or to contact Balcanoff, visit saratogaschools.org.

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