SELECTIVE MUTISM

WHAT IS SELECTIVE MUTISM? . . .

Selective mutism is a severe anxiety disorder (although not ALL experts agree) which renders the person unable to speak in certain social situations. It doesn't mean that they can't speak at all, nor does it mean that they are refusing to speak or just choosing not too, it means they literally are unable to at that time. It manifests itself in many social scenarios, hence the term 'selective', but what those situations are vary from person to person.

WHAT CAUSES SELECTIVE MUTISM? . . .

Like many conditions, there isn't one defining cause of selective mutism. Many believe it is often that those with the condition are genetically predisposed to anxiety; often they have a close family member who is anxious, but this isn't written in stone by any means.

Some others believe that it's a phobia of talking to certain people. It is usually first recognised in young children, anywhere between the ages of 2 and 8 years old.

It affects around 1 in 140 children, although this can also mean it often gets misdiagnosed as just the unwillingness to speak. If left untreated, it can persist into adulthood.

ARE MEN AFFECTED EQUALLY? . . .

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WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? . . .

The first signs of selective mutism usually occur in early childhood. It usually starts to manifest itself when the child begins to interact with people not in their family; i.e. when they start nursery or school. You will notice a marked contrast in how a child engages with people. They may 'freeze' standing still or with a fixed facial expression when talking to someone not in their comfort zone.

Some people can muster gestures (nodding or shaking their head for 'yes' and 'no') but for those with more severe symptoms, they can't make any physical or written gestures at all.

WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE? . . .

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WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP SOMEONE WITH SELECTIVE MUTISM? . . .

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