What sets Poling apart from many therapists and practitioners is that she herself has hadD and J WilsonParents of a Child with Selective Mutism
children who have had selective mutism...Her suggestions and expertise come from true
experience and her positive and empathetic nature are so helpful and encouraging.
We are extremely appreciative that we were able to meet with Poling regarding our 5 year old
daughter who was diagnosed with selective mutism at age 4. Poling is very knowledgeable in
What sets her apart from many therapists and practitioners is that she herself has had children
who have had selective mutism. She has truly been “in our shoes.” Her suggestions and expertise
come from true experience and her positive and empathetic nature are so helpful and
encouraging. She is very informative and relatable and genuinely wants to help and is so
enthusiastic about doing so.
Children see and feel this too. Within only a few minutes after meeting our daughter, she was
very comfortable with her. This was so nice to see. Having been through the SM journey herself,
Poling understands the sense of urgency we as parents feel to take action and do the best we can
for our children.
We would highly recommend meeting Poling.
Poling approaches her work with integrity and intensity.
I met Poling almost 10 years ago following a presentation on Selective Mutism at our school
board and found her to have a perspective that was unique given her own personal experiences.
Since then, whenever I was looking for additional resources she would kindly offer to meet with
me to share her expertise. Poling was able to provide valuable tips, insights and strategies to
assist children with even the most severe forms of Selective Mutism. She has been invited to
schools on numerous occasions to observe students, meet with parents, classroom teachers,
resource teachers and principals. With each visit, Poling helped to develop individualized
intervention plans and ensured that everyone understood how to implement and facilitate the
plan inside the school, at home, and in the community at the same time to help the child to speak
in all situations.
What sets Poling apart from other clinicians and therapists is the speed of success. I have often
heard that Selective Mutism treatment could take months or even years without proven results.
However, Poling was able to demonstrate in her research studies that Selective Mutism can be
treated with less than 3 hours of the child's time. I am personally aware of 4 children who were
mute for at least 3 years and were successfully treated by her within 8 sessions. What I foundLori DiMatteo Marcella,Speech-Language Pathologist, Niagara Catholic District School Board
amazing is that Poling rarely facilitates the sessions herself. Instead, she trained us and the
parents to facilitate the sessions, so that we would understand what needed to be done to assist
the children directly (no need to pull the child out of the classroom or home). Poling also knows
exactly how to make children with Selective Mutism feel comfortable. She would entice them to
play with the software applications that her research teams developed to help them start speaking
in front of their family and friends while playing the speech recognition games.
With her own children who suffered from Selective Mutism, Poling has personally experienced
the daunting journey of seeking help and witnessed her own children's mutism behaviour become
worse with repeated wrong treatments. Hence, she has zero tolerance for "mediocre" approaches.
She is consistently trying to explore ways to improve her techniques and shares them with other
researchers. It is evident that Poling approaches her work with great integrity, passion and
Poling knew exactly how to interact with Emily that Emily was immediately responding to
her with single words, and within a couple of weeks Emily was speaking to her in full
I had a grade three student Emily who was diagnosed with selective mutism before grade one.
Even though Emily was prompted and encouraged to speak she did not make any attempt to
verbally communicate with her classmates and teachers in the classroom for over three years.
Emily received some speech therapy once a week for a whole term but unfortunately she only
made progress with the speech pathologist in a one on one situation in a closed environment and
was still unable to speak to anyone else. She also received six months of cognitive behavioural
therapy at the region's mental health agency but it did not help.
In September 2014, upon Emily's arrival to my class I reviewed her history at school and at
home, researched her symptoms and consulted the speech pathologist for suggestions. It was
then that the speech pathologist suggested that I consult with Poling Bork, an educator in
selective mutism. I felt it was important to meet with Poling to gain as much knowledge and
strategies to help Emily feel comfortable, safe, respected in the class with me and her
I started meeting with Emily daily to discuss her progress one on one during a time when the
students were not in the room so she could talk freely to me about her feelings and any concerns
she might have socially, emotionally and academically. I then followed up by involving her
mother, meeting her briefly every day after school. I embraced Poling's expertise and began
setting up formal weekly meetings with myself, Emily and her mother. Poling observed Emily
several times and shared her assessment with me each time. Each time we worked on a few
strategies not to overwhelm Emily but also prompted her to speak more in the class daily. One of
the techniques Poling shared was using video self-modeling, and that was the first time Emily's
classmates saw her talking to me through the video recording, which helped Emily figure out that
nothing bad happened when she was seen talking.
I expanded the technique and asked the class to complete a video recording project with an iPad.
I paired Emily with her best friend and she was able to speak to her classmates inside the
classroom for the first time. Poling also lent Emily a tablet loaded with a selective mutism video
game that her team developed to encourage her to speak in the community. That game worked
by enticing her to start making sounds then to speaking full sentences as she progressed through
different game levels. For instance, Emily would need to blow onto the tablet in order to inflate
the balloons on the screen to get prizes, then she would need to say "yum" or "yuk" to sort foods
on a conveyor belt, and so on, until the very last game where she had to tell the mouse to stay
away from her lunch.
After meeting with Poling only 4 times, I already felt I had grasped enough knowledge to
continue facilitating the intervention on my own. Using the same techniques, Emily, her mother
and myself would meet and set up a daily goal whereby Emily would record a goal each day to
verbally say a few words, and if she achieved the goal where she would be rewarded a token at
the end of the day. Moving along at Emily’s pace, she was encouraged to set a goal for the next
day. Her success was monitored and tracked in the month of October. In November, we slowly
increased the demand for Emily to communicate sentences and phrases in the class around her
peers and to me. She immediately grasped the concept of this demand and began to speak more
and more each week. Her peers in the class were beginning to hear her and were thrilled with her
success. Throughout the month I kept track of Emily’s progress to share with Poling each week.
At the end of December, Emily was speaking freely. She no longer needed the tokens or the
meetings after school.
A thank you to Poling's expertise in the field. She made things so easy to understand that anyone
could use the same techniques. She understands how it feels to care for a child with selective
mutism, and her straight to the point approach also means no time is wasted. She encouraged me
and Emily's mother to be Emily's interventionists instead of herself being personally involved.
She explained that the goal was not for Emily to speak to her first, but to the people in her
immediate circle and within the community. Even though the goal was not for Emily to speak to
Poling, she knew exactly how to interact with Emily that Emily was immediately responding to
her with single words, and within a couple of weeks Emily was speaking to her in full sentences
(during an assessment survey).
Poling's direct approach to treating symptoms at its source made me believe that she truly is an
expert on selective mutism and she is looking out for the best interest of others. I am happy to
share that due to this and the team effort, Emily is no longer selectively mute within 3 months.
This is such as happy ending, especially since Emily was mute for 4 years previously and
received other interventions that did not work well. Emily expresses herself quite freely in theBarbara HennessyElementary School Teacher
classroom as she is preparing for high school in the fall of 2020.
Poling provides practical and workable strategies that can be implemented in a variety ofKavitha HarringtonSpeech-Language Pathologist, Niagara Catholic District School Board
settings. As a Speech-Language Pathologist working in a school board, I was able to attend a workshop
presented by Poling Bork, Ph.D. Her presentation was filled with information and useful
strategies that can be implemented in schools. The resources were well organized and the
presentation was very thorough. Our community is fortunate to have a knowledgeable,
conscientious and proficient individual with a specialty in Selective Mutism. The strategies and
suggestions that Poling provides are practical and can be carried out in a variety of settings.
Within a few minutes of the first meeting, my daughter was verbally responding to [Dr.Y. Leea Parent of a Child with Selective Mutism
Bork], which was shocking!
Before meeting Dr. Bork, my wife and I did not understand why our 5-year-old daughter couldn't
speak to everyone, especially to adults. We thought she was just being shy! Finding out that she
has selective mutism is actually a relief as we are now equipped with strategies to help our
daughter find her voice in public.
Dr. Bork is an expert on selective mutism, we've read her published research papers and
personally witnessed how she interacts with our daughter. She knows exactly what to do and
makes my daughter feel comfortable. Within a few minutes of the first meeting, my daughter
was verbally responding to her, which was shocking! I found out that Dr. Bork's children also
suffered from selective mutism. No wonder she knows exactly what to do and has all the answers
to our questions!
Dr. Bork also tirelessly conducts research to explore new techniques to make SM treatment fun
and effective. As a researcher myself, I know how important conducting research is! She has
guided her research teams in developing possibly the world's first interactive video games that
are designed to address selective mutism. With her passion in helping others, along with her
integrity and sense of urgency, I would highly recommend her to anyone and any organization.
Invite her for a talk, and you'll agree with me too!