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Tony’s Silence is a book and game to help children with selective mutism. While there is some controversy about the cause of selective mutism, it is widely believed anxiety is at the root. This resource explores the fight, flight, or freeze response and how it contributes to the problem. This book and game help children with selective mutism better understand their bodies and triggers to enable them to cope with the problem. It can also educate others in the child's life on what it is like for the child and how to best offer support.


There are obvious difficulties in working with a child with selective mutism, as they may or may not speak during counseling sessions. Many of the questions are asked so the child can act out or draw responses. However, the game may need to be modified to allow the child to communicate or respond in a way that works for their individual needs.


This book and game could be used in individual sessions, family sessions, could be used to send home with the family, or to introduce the problem to teachers or school administrators. Imagery is important to children, as it often gives an outward portrayal of an inward struggle. Children can feel validated and better understand the underlying feelings they are experiencing by identifying with a story. It also allows children to contrast their symptoms and experiences with what is portrayed in the book. This resource was developed to open the door to better understanding selective mutism and for children to explore their own triggers, coping mechanisms, and needs.


There are 8 categories each with 6 cards for the game: 

  • Communication - Kids will explore different ways they can communicate nonverbally.
  • Lips Zipped - Children will identify symptoms in their bodies as well as ways to calm their bodies when triggered.
  • Consequences - Children will have an opportunity to process emotions related to times they were punished due to their inability to speak. Some cards also help children identify self-talk statements related to fears of consequences.
  • Body Signals - Each child will have different physical symptoms when triggered. Identifying and understanding the cause of these body signals will help alert children when they need to start using coping skills and how to turn off the fight, flight, or freeze response.
  • Under Pressure - The child's internal dialogue will result in an emotional and physical response. These cards will help children recognize self-talk and how they can rescript it.
  • Research - Education is a powerful tool. Kids will be challenged to learn more about their bodies, how to educate others in their lives, and how they can find solutions to problems once the problem is identified.
  • Happy Days - Kids often need help in focusing their thoughts in a positive direction. These cards help highlight the happy moments they can focus their attention on to avoid getting into negative, ruminating thoughts.
  • Locked Up - These cards will help kids communicate what happens when they feel like they cannot speak. They will be challenged to think of new ways to respond or think about what is happening so they can find ways to unlock their bodies when triggered.


For more information about this resource, see my blog post here


You will receive a PDF document with instructions and a link to the Google Slides document that includes both the game and the ebook. The instructions also contain a video tutorial on how to use Google Slides to play games.


A physical copy of this resource is available here


Tony's Silence: A Book and Game about Selective Mutism - Telehealth Version

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