What is Selective Mutism
Selective mutism, formerly called elective mutism, is a complex psychological disorder with an unknown origin. It is a widely misdiagnosed childhood anxiety disorder which is now known to be genetically linked. The term Selective Mutism is somewhat misleading in that the term leads many to believe the child "selects" where to speak and is therefore, defiant. The opposite is actually the case. The child certainly wants to speak, but may be literally physically unable due to the severe anxiety. A better term would be "Anxiety Induced Mutism".
Generally, selective mutism is called shyness for several years until a child enters school and does not function verbally in school and most social situations outside of school. Parents and teachers become very concerned and seek further assistance and diagnosis. These children have the ability to speak and understand language, develop age appropriate skills, and function normally at home with most family members. However, if the mute behavior lasts for a period of time, it becomes a learned pattern and is difficult to overcome, because the longer a child is silent, the more entrenched the behavior becomes.
Award Winning Website
The Silence Within website has recently received the Teacher Education Commitment To Education Excellence website award.