What is Selective Mutism?
Selective Mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder characterized by an inability to speak in various settings; the most anxiety-provoking environment is usually the school. These children are able to speak at home and in settings where they feel comfortable, secure, and relaxed. However, this anxiety significantly impacts the ability for the child to participate in both social and academic environments.
Does my child have Selective Mutism?
- Does the child have difficulty talking to new people?
- Does the child avoid engaging verbally with adults or peers, even if he/she knows them and is comfortable with them?
- Does this silence continue despite a “warm-up” period?
- Does the mutism get in the way of participating in the classroom? (e.g., raising hand to answer questions, participating in oral presentations, making needs/wants known, etc.)
- Does it appear as if there are two sides to your child – the outgoing child when comfortable and the frozen, anxious child in public/at school?
- Have these issues continued past the first month of school?
If several of these symptoms sound like your child, he/she may have Selective Mutism. Children with Selective Mutism do not “grow out of it,” and left untreated it can lead to increases in anxiety, social phobia, school refusal/issues, and depression. However, treatment can be very effective – get help today!