About Selective Mutism

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Many infancy diseases have an impact on how youngsters communicate. Reactive attachment disorder, separation anxiety disorder, stereotypic disorder, and selective mutism are examples of these conditions. Each illness has its own source and severity, but nearly all of them require behavioral and emotional intervention. The essay, on the other hand, focuses on selective mutism and how it impacts children.

The majority of children who choose to speak to specific people, such as close friends and family members, but dislike others, have a condition known as "Selective Mutism." In 1877, a German physician, Kussmaul, first time reported selective mutism as “Asphasia Voluntraria.” But, later an English physician, Tramer in 1934, described it as “Elective Mutism.” To remove the argumentative behavior, it was changed to “Selective Mutism” in 1994 (Sparaso, 2012). To know what the reason is, a brief analysis need be done on what the symptoms are, how to diagnose them and what treatments need to be done.

Selective mutism is a disorder that makes a child to have the inability to communicate and speak efficiently in a social set up like a school. Initiating communication, verbally or nonverbally, is also difficult for kids who suffer from this type of condition. This disease is caused by genetic predisposition to anxiety due to inheriting a tendency to be anxious from a family member. About 90 percent of kids with this condition also portray social or phobia fear. Someone suffering from selective mutism needs to use the behavioral component in order to adjust this behavioral problem with their speech (Cohen, 2013).

Selective Mutism is usually visible between 1 to 3 years. Ideally, it affects about 2% of children, with slightly affecting girls more than boys. Some symptoms like shyness, hiding, fear or reluctance to speak are common, but parents think that children would get over it, as they grow up. Howe ver they consistently fail to speak even up to the youth age. Another thing that is noticed is that the affected kid is unable to speak fluently as other children because of the lack of knowledge. More symptoms of selective mutism may include anxiety disorder (fear about future and present event) for example, excessive shyness, social phobia, social embarrassment, and social withdrawal and isolation. (Kratochwil, 2015). They also have difficulty in maintaining the eye contacts while talking. They also have some positive symptoms like the love of art & music, sensitivity and empathy to others. Lastly, they have a strong intellectual about the right and wrong. These are some of the symptoms, with which it can be identified if a person has a problem of Selective Mutism.

Selective mutism makes children to take an extended period to learn how to talk. However, some of them end up not talking in their lifetime. Physically, they appeared to be clumsy and less interactive when among their peers. Their mode of interaction seems to be an odd one that is usually observed during the interaction process where they depict a particular behavior that looks restricted. Its cause is attributed to the genetic basis which is as a result of the brain imaging although a common pathology has not clearly established this. There seem to be no effective treatments for the syndrome as most medical practitioners have fewer data about it through which they can be able to create a remedy. Currently, most of the efforts are being undertaken to see to it that the symptoms appear at a reduced level.

It has been agreed that the best remedy would be the victims to conduct a behavioral therapy. Through the treatment, the victims are exposed to a psychopathology which aims at reinforcing in them the desired character trait and doing away with that which is unacceptable. This is done based on the issues of classical conditioning where it is assumed that most of the behaviors of such individuals are as a result of the need to respond to certain situations which they tend to do unconsciously. The medical practitioners found out that the syndrome was characterized by a variety of symptoms and not only one. The stereotyped and restricted behavioral patterns became a challenge for kid’s speech.

Their activities and interests tend to vary from the normal individuals and are mostly driven by their emotions and feelings. Their cognitive development is delayed and this, in turn, affects their language. The lack empathy and this is mostly portrayed during interaction where they tend to appear as if they are forcing themselves to find comfort in the company they are in. they lack the basic elements of social interaction like participating in a play but would prefer to serve as the audience. They are hard in developing friend ship and find isolation as the better option and one which makes them comfortable. They tend to avoid eye contact with each other and at the same time lack gestures, posture and facial expressions in their conversation an aspect that is viewed as not being normal.

Selective mutism kids are withdrawn from others but will tend to approach them in an awkward manner where they tend to spend most of the time talking about a topic that may end up interesting them alone (Klin& Volkmar, 2013). They are also less interested in the feelings and interests of the other party during the conversation because in most cases they tend to misunderstand them claiming that their conversation is interesting. They are always in a hurry to leave a crowd because they are uncomfortable with many kids and in most cases prefer privacy. Selective mutism is a common feature where they tend to choose whom to associate with in a crowd. They pay more attention to specific people and not others. Social norms in this context tend to apply to only a given type of situations and not all of them.

Language acquisition is a challenge for this group of individuals. Literal interpretations and miscomprehension of statements is a common problem with the process of language acquisition for such persons. The clinical interests for the syndrome are the poor prosody, the speech in which most cases appear to be circumstantial and tangential. Although their speech seems to be less rigid, most of their conversations lack intonation or may appear to be monotonous due to frequent repetition (Kratochwil 2015). They tend to shout in their talks and are jerky or rather fast. Their talks cannot suppress the internal thoughts of the listener, and in most cases, it is a monologue as the listener is less interested in what is being said. Children who suffer from the syndrome have a sophisticated vocabulary that is likely to be understood by the parents of members of the family in general.

Most kids have weakness in areas that require figurative language, humor, irony, and teasing. They understand what humor is but fail to realize that its intention is to bring an environment full of joy. Using the Adult Asperger Assessment (AAA), it is evident that lack of interest in fiction makes them see that there is no need to have humor in life (World Health Organization 2015). As for adults, they prefer situations in which they are exposed to a non- fictions environment. It has also been evident that they have a poor handwriting and most of their work is poorly coordinated. This means poor performance in the schools an issue that explains why most of them are recommended to special schools. They also have sleeping problems which bring with them a balance in the brain.

Various forms of therapies have been advocated for, and the most vital is the training of social skills to come up with an effective interpersonal way of interactions. This makes them find the importance of holding a conversation and why they should maintain an active mode of communication. To improve on the level of stress management, the medical practitioners advise that the victims of the syndrome undergo a cognitive behavioral therapy. This places the victims in a situation that they can reduce the levels of anxiety. Obsessive interests are cut down, and victims are taught on how to let their minds be busy. Repetitive routines have to be done away with so that the victims can learn to come up with other social groups that will improve social interaction. Anxiety disorder can be brought out for medication and introduce the victim to more therapies.

Children can also undertake physical or occupational therapies which will be able to assist the sensory organs and motor organs to become active in the individual. When motor coordination has been ensured, the individuals are able to equally participate in communication and interaction processes just like the other people (World Health Organization 2015). Disorders can therefore not be avoided in the society, but it is wise when those involved or the parents of the children who have the disability are able to come out and curb the syndrome. From the discussion above, it is clear that this syndrome has less data on it and may, therefore, take the time to be treated can indicate that when it is spotted in a victim, it has to be handled immediately.


It is vital for parents to be aware of this type of condition because when left unnoticed and untreated, children end up suffering at the later stages of their lives. Kids also show distinct signs particularly when it starts. It is therefore important for teachers to always interact with the children during their play time so that they can notice how kids interact with each other. Selective mutism as seen in the essay can be controlled to streamline the behaviors of the affected. Although sometimes this condition is inherited, it is also easy to manage at a tender age.


Baron-Cohen, S. (2013). The Maladapted Mind: Classic Readings in Evolutionary Psychopathology. 20-119: Psychology Press issue 2.

Klin, Arnold & Volkmar (2013). Frederick. Asperger syndrome: diagnosis and external validity. 1-13. Child Adolescent Psychiatr Clin N Am. Volume 1

Kratochwill, T. R. (2015). Selective Mutism (Psychology Revivals): Implications for Research and Treatment. 155-187: Psychology Press. Volume 2..

Sheila Spasaro, C. E. (2012). Refusal to Speak: Treatment of Selective Mutism in Children. 256-317: Jason Aronson Volume 1.

World Health Organization (2015). F84. Pervasive developmental disorders. 6-25: International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Vol 10

April 26, 2023

Family Health



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Child Disease Mental Disorder

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