One day, you’re talking effortlessly with your young child. The next? Nothing. This can be a huge shock to parents, but this silence won’t fall on deaf ears. Here’s what you should know about selective mutism in your child.

What is selective mutism?

Selective mutism occurs when a person is unable to speak in most situations. This speech disorder is different from other forms of mutism since it isn’t the result of a physical issue. For example, a child may have no problem talking at home but finds themselves unable to talk at school. This signifies a psychological issue that’s halting their communication efforts. Children are typically diagnosed with this issue once the mutism occurs for a month or more.

Who suffers from selective mutism?

Just about anyone can suffer from selective mutism, but it’s most common in young children who are quite shy. People most at risk for developing selective mutism are those who have anxiety disorders or are going through a period of social isolation. It’s recommended that your child visit a speech pathologist or another form of speech therapist in order to diagnose the underlying issue.

How is selective mutism diagnosed and treated?

Your pediatric speech therapist will typically go through a number of tests to determine the root of this communication disorder. They perform a physical assessment to ascertain there are no underlying physical issues hindering your child’s ability to speak. This could be an issue with their jaw, oral hypersensitivities, or an undiagnosed hearing issue that can be corrected.
Once physical factors are ruled out, the pediatric speech therapist may also test your child’s comprehension ability. If your child is unable to understand the questions being asked, they may clam up as a result. Once a diagnosis is achieved, the pediatric speech therapist will begin treatment options, including medications, shaping, and other means to encourage communication in your child. They might also involve other figures in your child’s life to help, including teachers, coaches, parents, and counselors.
Did you know that nearly 40 million people cope with speech or communication disorders across the United States? If your child shows signs of selective mutism, don’t hesitate to reach out to a pediatric speech therapist for help. Contact Clear Speech today.