Selective Mutism

What is Selective Mutism

Selective Mutism is a condition in which an individual is unable to speak in certain social situations, despite having the ability to speak in other settings. It is a relatively rare disorder that affects children and can persist into adulthood if left untreated. Despite its rarity, selective mutism can significantly impact a person’s life, making it important for individuals and their families to understand the condition and seek treatment.

Symptoms of Selective Mutism

The primary symptom of selective mutism is the inability to speak in specific social situations, such as at school or with friends. Children with selective mutism may be able to speak freely at home with family members, but become noticeably quiet or may not speak at all in other situations. Other symptoms of selective mutism may include:

  • Avoiding social situations where speaking is expected
  • Anxiety or discomfort in social situations
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Shyness or social withdrawal
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, or nausea when faced with a situation where speaking is required
What causes Selective Mutism?

Children with a family history of anxiety disorders or social phobia may be more likely to develop selective mutism. Additionally, children who have experienced traumatic events or stressful situations may be at a higher risk for developing the disorder.

Overcoming Selective Mutism

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of therapy for treating selective mutism and can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns that contribute to their anxiety. The primary focus of therapy is to help the individual overcome their fear of speaking in social situations and to improve their communication skills.

Living with selective mutism can be challenging, but there are steps that individuals and their families can take to cope with the disorder. These include:

  • Seeking support from friends and family members
  • Talking to a therapist or counsellor
  • Practising relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation
  • Joining a support group for individuals with selective mutism
  • Encouraging the individual to participate in activities they enjoy and to engage in social situations when possible

Living with Selective Mutism can be extremely challenging, however, you are not alone. Here at Trauma Research UK, our belief is, ‘it’s not what’s wrong with you, it’s what happened to you’. With this philosophy, we believe that everyone can successfully overcome their mental health issues if given the right help and support. Read more…