Selective Mutism is a rare developmental disorder characterised by a failure to speak in specific social situations (where there is an expectation to speak), despite speaking in other situations. Apart from selected social situations children with selective mutism do not have trouble communicating at other times. It usually lasts for more than a few months, is primarily anxiety based and can but not always be associated with personality traits of excessive shyness and anxiety.
Symptoms Of Selective Mutism
- There is a consistent failure to speak in specific social situations (in which there is an expectation for speaking, e.g., in class at school), despite speaking in other situations.
- There is a difficulty speaking with certain people and certain situations.
- The failure to speak is not due to a lack of knowledge of, or comfort with, the spoken language required in the social situation. (People who have difficulty speaking the language because they simply don’t know it.)
- The problem interferes with educational achievement and social communication.
- The duration of the difficulty is longer than 6 months and cannot be explained by another communication or developmental difficulty such as Autism
- If you are concerned that your child may have one or more these characteristics, we recommend that you book in for a 30 minute informal assessment and we will be able to provide guidance on your child’s communication ability, we will recommend further assessment and treatment if required.
Treatment Of Mutism
Depending on your child’s communication abilities, our expert Child Speech & Language Therapist will devise an individualised treatment plan using the latest evidence-based practice.
Assessment: This will involve a case history, parental questionnaire, interaction with the child such as drawing their talking map, explaining the difficulty to the child and putting in place a plan to help break down the barriers to communication.
Treatment: The intervention will often be preschool or school-based and involves behavioural strategies which work through the confident speaking hierarchy, we generally try to work in the setting where the mutism occurs (e.g. school). We will work in partnership with your child and other significant people in their life to help overcome this debilitating fear of speaking.
Child Friendly: All treatment modalities that we use are child-friendly and usually involve using pictures and games to help encourage communication and interaction.
Guidance: We will guide you on the best ways to successfully transfer skills learned to other social situations.
Support: Information sheets on Selective Mutism will be given to parents and school. At all stages throughout the treatment plan, we will provide detailed guidance for you on how to support your child’s communication development between sessions depending on what stage of treatment they are at.
Our Expertise of Mutism
Spectrum Health SLTs have completed specific training courses in the U.K. with experts in order to be able to assess and treat this debilitating communication problem. This will involve a case history, parental questionnaire, interaction with the child such as drawing their talking map, explaining the difficulty to the child and putting in place a plan to help break down the barriers to communication. The intervention will often be preschool or school based and involves behavioural strategies which work through the confident speaking hierarchy.
All of Spectrum Health’s Paediatric Speech and Language therapists are qualified from University with a B.Sc. or M.sc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy. We have therapists who have developed specific expertise in treating Selective Mutism.