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.