top of page

Volunteer Gives Voice to “Selective Mute Student”

“One day I asked Mario a question -- not really expecting anything but a nod -- but he replied with the word yes. I was ecstatic.”

This is how Volunteer Denice Hilts described her reaction when a student suffering from a condition known as being a “selective mute” first spoke to her after weeks of contact.

“Usually, I didn’t have him read an entire book … but he made it clear he was going to read it all. At the end I was almost crying and said look what you just did! He had the most beautiful smile.”

Denise, a former special education teacher, met Mario as part of her volunteer work at Saul Martinez elementary school. “Mario spoke to his family, but never to his teachers or other students,” she explained. 

“Twice a week for weeks, I would bring Mario to a quiet place in the back of the room and would work with him. I think Mario felt safe there. I would always tell him it was just you and me and nobody could hear him.  

“Finally, one day he quietly took a book from me and in a whisper began to read. I assured him nobody else could hear so could he please speak a little bit louder so I can make sure he was pronouncing words correctly.”

“He raised his voice a tiny bit so I can hear. Of course, I cried.”

Before she went to catch the bus that day, “I said I’ll see you next week and walked out of the school. Sadly, Covid closed down everything a couple of days later and I never saw Mario again.” 

“Last year, I asked my teacher what happened to him. He said he had moved on to middle school and was doing really well. I was ecstatic.”

Is there a better example of the positive impact Read With Me has on our kids?

bottom of page