Breaking the silence

News around Campus

Breaking the silence

Published on March 05 2010

Po-Ling Bork, a doctoral candidate in Educational Studies at Brock, and Debra Harwood, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education, will lead a workshop on selective mutism at the Early Childhood Community Development Centre on March 30.

About one in 140 school-age children suffer from selective mutism, a condition in which a child fears being heard or seen speaking in specific social settings.

Bork can speak about the condition not only as a researcher but as a parent of three children who suffered from selective mutism. Her son, she says, was persistently mute. He was properly diagnosed and provided with intervention.

In a recent interview with the St. Catharines Standard, she described the all-consuming fear experienced by children with this disorder.

"It's like you're watching a car come towards you, and you freeze on the spot," said Bork.

Her master’s thesis focused on strategies to help children in the classroom. She has started her doctoral work and is in the process of developing the psychoeducational software, called *iSpeak++*, (Interactive Software Program that Empowers Anxious Kids To Talk), to help teachers and children with selective mutism in the classroom.

Bork has presented her research around the world and last year gave a presentation at Brock’s annual Mapping the New Knowledges graduate student research conference. She is very passionate about educating people and has an encouraging story to tell about her son’s success in overcoming his fears of speaking at school.

"Sometimes I wonder if this was a calling," she told The Standard, "for me to experience this first-hand so that I am able to reach out and help others."

In the March 30 workshop, Bork and Harwood will offer strategies to maximize a child's social successes.The event will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Early Childhood Community Development Centre, 395 Ontario St., St. Catharines. There is no charge to attend but
registration is required. Call 905-646-7311, ext. 304, or

Also, read the recent news coverage “Breaking the Silence”