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What Is Selective Mutism in Children?

Learn about selective mutism in children from Dr. Kimberly Williams in this Howcast video.


Selective mutism is a unique form of anxiety or social anxiety that typically occurs in childhood. Selective mutism involves a child who does not speak and who will only speak in certain situations for fear of being judged or critic. In many instances children with selective mutism will speak to peers but they won't speak to adults or sometimes they will speak to their friends but won't speak with their teachers. Often times these children won't speak in school but they'll and be quite when they're in bunches when they're at home. Of course selective mutism creates great difficulty in school because it's challenging assessing the child's knowledge and helping the child when they may not understand what's going on in the class room setting. Selective mutism has multiple different treatment strategies and behavioral intervention is key. A child can learn how to speak and be more comfortable in those environments through a gradual succession of practicing and speaking and positive reinforcement. Selective mutism has a very good prognostic outcome when interventions are immediate. It is important to remember that when a child is selectively mute, not to consider them to be shy or rude and it's also important not to put them on spot and insist that they speak , this often exacerbates their anxiety and makes them even more less apt to speak in that situation. Selective mutism treatment requires the intervention of parents, teachers and behavioral professionals . A collaboration that helps the child learn how to speak through small and gradual successions. Selective mutism is really understood but these are few facts regarding this anxiety disorder.

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