SunnyMindED

Support for Caregivers, Educators and Treating Professionals
of Children with Selective Mutism

 

Help Your Special Children Find Their Voice

Welcome to SunnyMinded, a dedicated platform for navigating the complex world of selective mutism (SM). Selective mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. According to the American Psychiatric Association, selective mutism affects about 1 in 140 young children, with the typical onset between the ages of 3 and 8. It can have profound effects on children, disrupting their academic and social life and often leading to isolation, misunderstanding, and frustration. But it is important to remember that with timely help and appropriate intervention, children with SM can successfully overcome their silence and regain their voice.

At SunnyMinded, we are deeply committed to helping children with selective mutism find their voices and thrive in their environments. We offer a range of comprehensive and evidence-based services designed to meet the unique needs of each child and their support system. Our offerings include online courses, individual and group consultations for parents and educators, as well as training for professionals in the field. Our programs aim to equip parents, educators, and professionals with the tools and strategies they need to support children with SM effectively. This involves guiding them in devising and implementing plans to help children manage and overcome their silence.

Our team at SunnyMinded is a collective of passionate and experienced professionals who have dedicated their careers to helping children overcome SM. We have translated multiple seminal texts on selective mutism interventions, including The Selective Mutism Resource Manual, 2nd Ed. (Johnson & Wintgens, 2016, UK: Taylor & Francis). Our team members have also co-authored two new books in the field (both published by UK: Taylor & Francis), further demonstrating our commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding of selective mutism. Since our inception in 2018, we have consulted with over 100 families, helping children on their journey to overcome SM. We pride ourselves on our deep expertise and practical experience, which form the basis of our holistic, child-focused approach.

We know that every child with selective mutism has a unique story, potential, and strength that needs to be nurtured and supported. Early intervention is crucial to help these children break their silence and regain their confidence. If you have a child or a student who is struggling with selective mutism, please don’t wait. Reach out to SunnyMinded today. Let’s start their journey towards recovery together, fostering the development of skills and strategies that will empower them to navigate the world with their own voice. We’re here to guide, support, and empower you every step of the way. Remember, the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome. At SunnyMinded, we believe that every child deserves the chance to be heard. Let’s help them find their voice, together.

About Us

Our Background

SunnyMindED is an initiative founded in 2018 by Junhua Wang Reitman, a dedicated parent who successfully assisted her child in overcoming selective mutism, in collaboration with several scholars. This initiative was sparked by the realization of a significant gap in the availability of resources related to selective mutism intervention, particularly for the Chinese community.

Our inception was driven by the vision to shed light on selective mutism (SM) and provide robust support for children grappling with this condition within the global Chinese community. As part of our mission, our team diligently translated an array of books, online courses, and various other forms of media focused on selective mutism intervention into Chinese, thereby rendering them accessible to a wider audience.

Beyond translation, SunnyMindED was also deeply engaged in the creation of original, quality content. In collaboration with healthcare professionals, we have developed an expansive series of online courses dedicated to providing insights and understanding into the realm of selective mutism behavioral intervention.

The year 2019 marked a significant milestone for us when Junhua, in partnership with renowned selective mutism expert psychologist Ruth Perednik, began offering online counselling services. Our collective efforts and expertise have since enabled hundreds of children to overcome the confines of selective mutism.

Although we concentrate primarily on serving Chinese-speaking and multilingual families worldwide, our footprint spans across numerous countries, including China, Australia, Canada, France, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Today, SunnyMindED’s services encompass a wide range of offerings including online courses, one-on-one and group counselling sessions, group studies, and training programs for professionals working with children experiencing selective mutism. Our overarching objective is to empower parents, educators, healthcare professionals, and other caregivers, equipping them with the knowledge and strategies needed to support children with SM effectively.

We are steadfast in our mission to assist these children in breaking their silence, enabling them to lead fulfilled, happy lives. SunnyMindED is here to ensure that every child with selective mutism is heard, understood, and offered the help they need to overcome their challenges.

Our Experts

Junhua Wang Reitman

M.A. in Psychology; M.B.A.; Co-Founder and Lead Counseling Coach at SunnyMindED; Certified Montessori Early Education Teacher

Junhua Reitman is a counseling coach dedicated to aiding parents and teachers who support children with selective mutism (SM). Drawing from personal experience of helping her own daughter overcome SM, Junhua also serves as a trainer for SM counselors. Her commitment to this cause extends to her roles as the coordinator of the Selective Mutism Association in the United States and the co-founder of the Selective Mutism Association of China. She has devoted many years to enhancing public awareness of SM and providing invaluable assistance to affected children and their families.

Junhua’s influence in the field is further reflected in her written works. As the co-author of two books on SM intervention, The Selective Mutism Workbook for Parents and Professionals: Small Steps, Big Changes and Supporting Your Child with Selective Mutism: A Practical Guide at School, Home, and in the Community, she has significantly contributed to the literature available on SM. Additionally, she has been part of the team translating several SM-related books into Chinese, including “The Selective Mutism Resource Manual, 2nd Edition”. Junhua made presentations to parents and professionals at the American Selective Mutism Association (SMA) Annual Conference in 2021, 2022; and will also present in the upcoming 2023 SMA conference.

As a certified Montessori teacher and the principal of a Montessori school, Junhua presented “Supporting Children with Selective Mutism (SM) in a Montessori School Setting” at the 2022 American Montessori Conference. In 2023, she took her efforts a step further by beginning to train Montessori teachers specifically on SM-related issues.

Nianhua Xu

Ph.D., parent coach, trainer for teachers and counselors at SunnyMindED

Dr. Nianhua Xu holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from the University of Texas and is a researcher specializing in diagnostic techniques and the latest developments in selective mutism (SM). As a coordinator for the Selective Mutism Associations in both the United States and China, she works tirelessly to help more families implement effective interventions for SM and hasten the recovery process for children affected.

Passionate about spreading knowledge about selective mutism, Dr. Xu has made multiple trips to China to raise awareness about this condition. Prior to her work with SM, Dr. Xu had over a decade of experience in new drug development, with research spanning psychiatric science, endocrinology, immunology, and cardiology.

Additionally, Dr. Xu has contributed to the body of literature on selective mutism. She co-authored “Supporting Your Child with Selective Mutism: A Practical Guide at School, Home, and in the Community, ” with Junhua Reitman. She also led and participated in the translation of a series of books on SM, including The Selective Mutism Resource Manual: 2nd Edition.

Catherine Cai

M.A. in Early Childhood Education and Special Education; Parent Coach at SunnyMindED

Catherine holds her master’s degree in Special Education and Early Education from New York University. Writing team of the book <Supporting Your Child with Selective Mutism: A Practical Guide at School, Home, and in the Community>. Participated in the Chinese translation of the SM workbook and the translation of ten series of SM online courses. Certified AMS (American Montessori Association)  Early Childhood Education Lead Teacher.

Joanne Guo

Master of Education; Parent Coach at SunnyMindED

Joanne holds her master of Education from Harvard University. Participated in translation of SM Books and videos. Currently participating in the writing of a new series of SM books.

Ruth Perednik

Senior Lisc. psychologist, pioneer in the field of selective mutism, Director at The Selective Mutism Treatment Center

Since 2019, SunnyMindED has been honored to collaborate with the renowned psychologist, Ruth Perednik, to extend support to children with Selective Mutism (SM) within the Chinese community. A respected pioneer in the field, Ruth has made significant strides in treating children and teenagers affected by selective mutism. She leads the Selective Mutism Treatment Center and has made substantial contributions to the literature on SM and bilingualism through her publications.

Over the course of two decades, Ruth has treated thousands of children with SM, during which she developed an innovative and effective treatment approach. Her method is encapsulated in a comprehensive, yet succinct treatment manual that is structured into three sections, each targeting therapists, parents, and teachers.

To expand the reach of her techniques, Ruth has created online treatment courses tailored for parents and therapists. Her expertise has influenced treatment methods worldwide, as she has successfully treated clients and trained mental health professionals globally.

At SunnyMindED, we’ve had the privilege to translate Ruth’s book and her online courses into Chinese, thereby making her resources accessible to a wider audience. Alongside Ruth, we’ve offered online counseling and training programs for parents, educators, and counselors, bringing expert help to those supporting children with SM.

Our Approach

The Supporting Triangle Model for Assisting Children with Selective Mutism at School, Home, and Community

The Supporting Triangle Model is an innovative intervention strategy for selective mutism (SM) developed by SunnyMindED. It is extensively applied in our counseling and coaching sessions for caregivers of children with SM, and it has shown to be effective in hundreds of successful cases. For a comprehensive guide to its implementation, we recommend our team members’ book, “Supporting Your Child with Selective Mutism: A Practical Guide at School, Home, and in the Community” (J. Reitman, N. Xu & A. Retiman, n.p., UK: Taylor & Francis).

While reducing a child’s anxiety is of utmost importance, it’s often not enough. As children with SM grow, they may not always feel anxious, yet their mutism and lack of social engagement can persist in certain environments. These children require specifically tailored strategies and interventions to transition from nonverbal to verbal communication, an essential aspect of most intervention plans. Interventions must be applied in real-world settings, not just during counseling sessions. To this end, SunnyMindED offers online training courses, counseling, and coaching for parents and teachers to aid children in school, at home, and in the community.

Our interventions comprise a variety of techniques, including anxiety reduction, confidence-building, and progression from silence to nonverbal communication, and finally to verbal communication through sound mimicking and sound exposure therapy. These interventions may also involve the use of assistive devices.

The Supporting Triangle Model utilizes specialized behavioral intervention techniques to encourage communication and reinforces successful speaking experiences with ample praise, rewards, and incentives. We guide parents and teachers to understand and apply these strategies, helping them seize opportunities to reinforce these skills in diverse environments.

We believe in a hands-on approach to ensure consistency in all settings and for everyone involved. By assigning parents homework and soliciting their timely tracking and feedback, we can monitor progress and adapt methods as necessary. We collaborate with the child’s school to provide staff training and propose specific classroom strategies. If medication intervention is deemed beneficial, parents coordinate with their child’s psychiatrist to offer real-time feedback and assistance.

An integral part of our approach is ‘brave practices’, scenarios set up for the child to speak and receive immediate rewards. These practices can occur in clinics, community, and school environments, and can be tailored to each child’s needs. For example, ordering ice cream from a new person offers a child the opportunity to practice speaking and receive a reward – the ice cream.

Furthermore, parent training plays a crucial role in our approach. We understand that monthly psychological interventions are significant for counteracting the effects of SM, but ‘brave practices’ carried out regularly contribute exponentially to the child’s progress. Our counselors train parents in desensitization techniques and establishing ‘brave practices’ for everyday life.

Every child is unique and needs an individualized plan. By combining family support, including parent education and environmental adjustments, with addressing the child’s specific needs and school accommodations, we can reduce the child’s anxiety, enhance their self-esteem, and increase their communication opportunities and social confidence. This will equip children with SM with the necessary skills to communicate effectively, enabling them to live a normal, fulfilling life.

Our Publications

Books Translated or Coauthored by Our Team Members

Translated to Chinese

Wintgens, A., Johnson, M. (2017). The Selective Mutism Resource Manual: 2nd Edition. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Coauthored

Johnson, M., Reitman, J. (2023). The Selective Mutism Workbook for Parents and Professionals: Small Steps, Big Changes. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Coauthored

Reitman, J., Xu, N. & Reitman, A. (n.d.). Supporting Your Child with Selective Mutism: A Practical Guide at School, Home, and in the Community. (n.p.) United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Translated to Chinese

Perednik, R. (2016). The Selective Mutism Treatment Guide: Manuals for Parents Teachers and Therapists. Second Edition: Still Waters Run Deep. Israel: Oaklands.

Our Services

Online Courses

At SunnyMindED, we offer a variety of online courses catered to parents, teachers, and counselors. Included in our repertoire is the course titled “Leading Children Out of Silence” led by the psychologist Ruth Perednik. This course aims to provide you with the tools and strategies to help children break the barrier of selective mutism. We also offer “How Parents, Teachers, and Therapists Can Help Mute Children at School, Home, and in the Community”, a course led by Junhua Reitman. This course further explores the ways caregivers and educators can help children overcome selective mutism in various settings. Through these courses, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to support children on their journey towards overcoming selective mutism.

Individual Consultations

We offer expert online consultations tailored for parents of children with selective mutism. These sessions are led by psychologist Ruth Perednik and Junhua Reitman, who provide personal guidance and advice to help manage this condition. Each consultation involves an update on the child’s progress in school, at home, and within the community. Additionally, we analyze current challenges and provide actionable intervention activities and strategies. Our goal is to offer a comprehensive and personalized approach to each family’s unique situation, providing solutions to overcome their child’s selective mutism.

Group Studies

Our Parents Study Group feature online learning sessions, attended by multiple parents of children with selective mutism and relevant educators. These sessions are supervised and led by a SunnyMindED Coach and experienced SM parents, who provides online training and addresses queries. The focus of these sessions includes summarizing each child’s progress, reviewing strategies employed, and sharing success stories and experience.
Depending on the child’s particular circumstances and parental involvement, these discussions also contribute to formulating future plans. This collaborative learning environment aims to share experiences, insights, and successful interventions, fostering a supportive community for all involved.

Counselor Training

Our Counselor Training program is designed for professional counselors and those aspiring to specialize in selective mutism. The training program includes lecture videos, online study groups, real-time online coaching, and other learning resources. Under the guidance of Junhua Reitman and SunnyMindED advisors, trainees acquire effective intervention methods for childhood selective mutism. We aim to equip our trainees with the skills and knowledge they need to make a real difference in the lives of children struggling with selective mutism.

Contact Us

 

WeChat

Send a friend request to:junwang08837

Phone

1-732-658-0080