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:

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.

Evaluation:

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.

Treatment:

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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