Telltale Signs Your Kids Might Have Selective Mutism

Becoming a parent is a learning curve, and unexpected bumps along the path will arise along the way. One of those unexpected bumps in the road may be a childhood anxiety disorder, which can be easily misdiagnosed as something else (like shyness, autism, or language difficulties, among other things). Anxiety is a hidden disability, and selective mutism can be very debilitating. Some children are given no diagnosis at all, and some doctors, teachers, family members, and friends tell their parents that their child is only timid or shy and they will grow out of it with time. Keep reading to learn more about this disorder and how to identify it. At Simply Psychology , LLC, we offer multiple online parenting courses and workshops that will give you the right tools and knowledge to help your child.

What Is Selective Mutism?

Selective mutism is a childhood anxiety-based condition. It is marked by a child's lack of ability to talk and communicate successfully in certain social situations while not having trouble talking in other situations (such as home with family). Some children with this condition may be able to communicate by pointing or nodding. Others may remain still or freeze in the presence of strangers or unfamiliar social surroundings. This disorder commonly begins in childhood and can last until adulthood if left untreated.

How Do I Know If My Child Has Selective Mutism?

Children with this disorder can present symptoms similar to other conditions, making it harder to get an accurate diagnosis. This disorder can negatively impact the kid's social and academic functioning if left untreated. These are some possible signs a child with this condition may present:

  • Inability to speak or respond verbally to people outside their immediate family, such as grandparents, carers, teachers, and specific classmates.
  • Inability to talk to their parents in places where other people besides their immediate family might see or hear them.
  • Difficulty engaging in play or activities with other children and making friends.
  • Entirely avoiding doing things where they are the center of attention – for example, having their picture taken, giving something to a teacher, or participating in sports in front of others.
  • Appear as if they are easily distracted or have trouble thinking clearly, paying attention, or concentrating.

Treatments Options Available

Selective mutism can be treated with psychotherapy and medication. However, psychotherapy is usually the first recommendation. The most commonly accepted treatment is Parent Child Interaction Therapy for SM (PCIT-SM) for younger children and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for adolescents and adults. Exposure-based tasks are used for all ages and this focuses on helping the individual learn to speak in unfamiliar settings around new people, using gradual exposures and praise. These therapy methods help children, teens, and adults learn to gradually engage in more speaking activities by employing several strategies to increase tolerance of uncomfortable feelings that underpins selective mutism.

Sometimes, selective mutism is associated with speech and language problems in some children. Although this is not always the case, getting a speech and language evaluation to rule out communication impairments is a good idea. When parents learn that their child has this form of mutism, it is also recommended that they find a trained clinician with expertise in this area to ensure they are prepared to help their little one throughout their treatment.

Online Workshops for Parents Who Have Children with Anxiety | Simply Psychology

Early treatment for selective mutism can help children learn to speak up more often and enhance their academic and social performance. This is a crucial step to take while young to prevent future problems with anxiety and self-confidence. At Simply Psychology, LLC, we implement research-based effective therapy methods to promote independent problem-solving. Our team of expert and caring clinicians offer individual counseling, online parenting courses, parent coaching and workshops, and evaluations to help children with anxiety disorders and selective mutism. We are here to help you be the best you can be. Book an appointment online, or call (602) 428-2838 today for more information!