October is Selective Mutism awareness month.
Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. This is the definition of SM provided by Dr. Elisha Shipon-Blum, the president and director of the Selective Mutism Anxiety Research and Treatment Center (SMART) based in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. According to her, children affected by this disorder are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure, and relaxed.
Dr. Shipon-Blum also added that “the majority of children with Selective Mutism have a genetic predisposition to anxiety. In other words, they have inherited a tendency to be anxious from one or more family members.Very often, these children show signs of severe anxiety, such as separation anxiety, frequent tantrums and crying, moodiness, inflexibility, sleep problems, and extreme shyness from infancy on.”
The 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) (p.195) as follows:
A child with selective mutism should be seen by a pediatrician and a psychologist or psychiatrist in addition to a speech-language pathologist. These professionals will work as a team with teachers, family, and the individual.
- Selective Mutism Anxiety Research and Treatment Center (SMART)
- Selective Mutism Foundation, Inc.
- Selective Mutism, France
- Selective Mutism Group (SMG)
- Selective Mutism Information and Research Association (SMIRA)
- Selective Mutism Network