The Disabling Effects of Selective Mutism

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The Disabling Effects of Selective Mutism

Among the vast range of anxiety induced disorders that exist, Selective Mutism may be the most disabling to its victims. It has been estimated that approximately one in a thousand children suffer from this presumed psychiatric ailment wherein the ability to speak is limited to the household or other areas of comfort. (2) Public places and schools elicit so much anxiety within these children that their natural capacity to speak is suppressed. Once a child under five years of age exhibits the behavior described, for over a month, and without having other speech impeding barriers affecting them such as autism or a second language, he or she will most likely be diagnosed with selective mutism. (2)

Many hypotheses have been posed as to what causes selective mutism, however, no determinate conclusions have been made. In most cases it has been proven that anxiety disorders are hereditary, thus, nearly all children who become selectively mute have family members who were afflicted with the same or more serious anxiety disorder, like obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, or social phobia. The fact that anxiety disorders pass through generations implies that brain chemistry is perhaps genetic or that serotonin levels are inherited. Other suggested causes of selective mutism have been speculated upon, however, little research has been instated. Abuse, neglect, extreme shyness, extremely embarrassing experiences like vomiting or having diarrhea in a classroom setting, or living in a home environment with exceptionally nervous parents may also lead to become selectively mute. These theorized causes tend to describe the background of children who have no similar disorders runni...

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...e Mutism Foundation, a support sight to better understand the disorder

3)Philadephia Page, a site with excerpts about selective mutism from the Philadelphia Inquirer

4)Selective Mutism UK, an interesting article about the seriousness of selective mutism

5)Anxiety-Panic Website, a site which describes several other anxiety disorders

6)Mental Health web page, a helpful site providing several articles about selective mutism

7)Anxiety Network, illustrates well the treatment available for those selectively mute
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