What is Selective Mutism?
Selective mutism is an individual’s persistent failure to speak in specific social situations (like school). This mutism is selective, because these children otherwise speak freely and normally. Selective mutism is generally considered a psychological condition that often occurs hand-in-hand with social anxiety.
What causes selective mutism?
Unfortunately, selective mutism appears in children of varying ages, at varying points in their lives, and the exact cause of the condition is unknown.
How does the condition develop?
Though the condition can develop at any point, onset of selective mutism typically appears before a child is 5 years old. The disorder usually goes unrecognized until the child is in preschool, a setting in which he is forced to interact with other children, and one in which the mutism is magnified. Selective mutism often resolves itself and disappears completely within a year; however, because of the negative consequences the disorder can have on a child’s academic performance and social interaction, it is important to provide treatment and therapy to overcome the condition quickly. Furthermore, selective mutism can become chronic and severe, so addressing the condition as soon as possible is critical to ensuring your child makes a speedy, complete recovery.
How do I help treat my child’s selective mutism?
A team approach is best for children with selective mutism. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most well known treatment for the condition, and this form of therapy is provided by NSPT.
Our approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, a team of therapists will work your child through his selective mutism. Speech-language pathologists will assess your child’s speech, language and communication skills and will also treat any other deficits or disorders that are occurring simultaneously. A social worker will work with your child to address any issues of anxiety or stress, both of which are often related to selective mutism. A pediatric neuropsychologist is also available for additional evaluation and cognitive behavioral treatment as necessary. All team members play a role in the education and counseling for parents and teachers of children with selective mutism.