What is Selective Mutism?
Selective Mutism is an anxiety based disorder that causes individuals not to speak in specific settings or with specific listeners despite the ability to speak freely when they are in a comfortable setting and/or with comfortable listeners. There is a common misconception that individuals with SM are choosing not to talk, research suggests otherwise.
SM often coexists with other areas of potential growth, such as; sensory integration disorders, speech/language delays, or anxiety disorders.
SM is often identified in the preschool years when a child first goes to school and she/he is not able to speak to teachers and/or peers. More mild cases may not be identified until the late adolescent or teenage years. Though this can feel like a difficult time for school teams and parents, there are wonderful resources available and with appropriate supports in place, an individual at any age can find their voice, it’s never too late!
The support process for SM can be multifaceted and may include intervention for the underling anxiety, the mutism, and any other areas of individual difference.
If it is left untreated, selective mutism can severely impact a child’s self-esteem, self-concept, social development, and education. SM is typically best supported by a holistic approach and active parental and school involvement.
To learn more, visit www.selectivemutism.org.
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