Selective Mutism is a Multifaceted Childhood Anxiety Disorder
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Selective Mutism is a multifaceted childhood anxiety disorder that characterized by a child's inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school and to the general public (Kumpulainen, 1998, p. 24). The DSM-V-TR criteria for Selective Mutism specify that the persistent failure to speak in specific contexts should not be explained by the following:
1. An organic inability rooted in language ability (comprehension and comfort speaking the language)
2. Another communication disorder, such as stuttering
3. Concurrent diagnosis of pervasive development disorder, schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorder
The less than 1% of children affected by this disorder will speak and communicate in settings where they feel calm, secure and unperturbed. Essentially, the child may talk normally at home with their parents but will find them unable to speak when in other social settings. A common misconception amongst teachers and parents is that the child is willfully refusing to speak or speak at a volume that others can discern (Shipon-Blum, 2003). This inability to communicate leads to the child being unable to inform someone of pain that they are feeling or that they need to do something as simple as use the bathroom.
This disorder often causes the child to become withdrawn from their classrooms and other age-appropriate activities which effectively alienates the child from the social environment even more. The first symptoms of Selective Mutism are usually noticeable between the ages of 1 to 3 years (Kumpulainen, 1998, p. 24). However, it is usually not recognized until the child begins school and is requested to respond verbally and/or interact in social situations. Sometimes, even then, the child is vie...
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... disorders: DSM-5. (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
Dummit, E. S., Klein, R. G., Tancer, N. K., Asche, B., Martin, J., & Fairbanks, J. A. (1997). Systematic Assessment Of 50 Children With Selective Mutism. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(5), 653???660.
Kumpulainen, K., Raaska, H., & Somppi, V. (1998). Selective mutism among second-graders in elementary school. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 7(1), 24-29. Retrieved March 3, 2014, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s007870050041
Mental Health Guide. (n.d.). Selective Mutism. Retrieved May 12, 2014, from http://www.childmind.org/en/health/disorder-guide/selective-mutism
Shipon-Blum, D. E. (n.d.). What is Selective Mutism. What is Selective Mutism. Retrieved May 12, 2014, from http://www.selectivemutismcenter.org/aboutus/WhatisSelectiveMutism