Alice Sluckin died, aged 99 years and 6 months, on 15th February, 2019. Alice Sluckin, Fellow in the School of Psychology and the School of Education, University of Leicester, was a senior psychiatric worker for many years. She wrote widely on selective mutism and other allied conditions. She was one of the founders of the Selective Mutism Information Research Association (SMIRA), set up in 1992, and was its chair until 2017 when she reluctantly stepped down due to increasing deafness.
Selective Mutism (SM) is a rare emotional disorder of childhood, in which affected children can speak fluently to intimates in family situations, but remain silent in situations such as school, where there is expectation to speak. In the majority of cases this is due to overwhelming anxiety.
Alice adopted a new treatment approach based on principles established in experimental psychology, known as behaviour modification, which soon became the treatment of choice. One advantage was that it was possible to combine it with more conventional therapies such as play, speech, family, art or music therapy.
In 2007 Alice was invited to be part of the government's review into the support available nationally for children with Speech, Language and Communication needs, which led to the influential Bercow Report. Alice's inclusion onto the Bercow committee marked the respect other professionals in the field had for her.
I met Alice two years ago when I went to her house in Leicester to interview her for my book The New Frontier: Making difference in later life. (1) Alice, who remained active, helping others, well into her nineties, was certainly someone who, in later life, continued to make a positive difference to society, bringing hope and happiness to many families. I am so glad I met her. She was a lovely person. Click here to see a list of Alice Sluckin’s publications.
- The New Frontier: Making a difference in later life (Ed. Robin Lloyd-Jones, ThunderPoint Publishing, 2018) is a collection of interviews with men and women over the age of 70, who are still leading active, productive, useful lives. It is due out in the Spring of this year.