Selective Mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder. Children with selective mutism are unable to speak in some social situations (school) although they speak normally in other settings (home).


Symptoms in children with selective mutism may be first noticed when they start school, but many children demonstrate early signs of anxiety disorders. 

  • Consistent failure to speak in select situations, lasting longer than 1 month.
  • Separation anxiety as young children
  • Social anxiety symptoms, such as fear of attention, "shy bladder syndrome", overanxious about making mistakes, embarrassment about eating in front of others, etc.
  • Blank, emotionless facial expression, stiff body stance, lack of eye contact
  • Difficulty using non-verbal communication (waving hello, raising hand in class, etc), as well as speech.
  • Difficulty with self-regulation, poor coping skills.
  • Sensory Integration dysfunction-sensitivity/increased anxiety with crowds, noise, lights, etc.


It is important that the rehab therapist works together with a psychologist or psychiatrist who will evaluate your child for an anxiety disorder.

Your child may be evaluated by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). The SLP will talk with you about your child's medical history as well as your current concerns. The SLP will assess your child's speaking skills. A taped speaking sample brought from home may be necessary. The SLP will also assess your child’s non-verbal communication, social, and receptive and expressive language skills.

Your child may also be evaluated by an Occupational Therapist (OT) to look for sensory processing dysfunction.


The SLP and OT will work together with you and your child to set-up a treatment program.

Speech therapy treatment will include activities to; reduce anxiety, learn coping strategies, learn nonverbal and verbal social communication skills, and a transfer of the above skills to common social settings.

You and your child’s occupational therapist will develop a sensory treatment plan. Together you will work towards your child’s goals with therapy, parent education, and home activities. Therapy will be provided in a sensory-rich play environment with activities that are motivating and meaningful to your child

Doctors that treat Selective Mutism:

  • Behavioral Health
  • Speech Language Pathologists or Speech Therapists
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