Selective Mutism is a form of anxiety disorder in children who consistently have a fear to speak in certain situations and environments, yet speak freely at home with their close family and friends.
This absence of speech in social settings (e.g. school and parties) is typically first noticed by parents in early childhood when the child begins to interact with others outside the immediate family unit.
Children who have Selective Mutism may compensate for lack of speech with the use of hand gestures to communicate (e.g. pointing and shaking their head) but are careful not to make any noise that may bring any unwanted attention to themselves.
If left untreated, Selective Mutism may last until adulthood, thereby, severely impacting the child’s quality of life and development as their coping mechanism will normally be to avoid social situations.Furthermore, children with Selective Mutism, typically present symptoms, such as, poor eye contact, socially awkward, frozen and expressionless at times when they cannot speak.
Selective Mutism can be diagnosed and treated with methods including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. At Think Psychological Services, we have helped a number of children overcome their Selective Mutism.