An exploration into the unknown world of Selective Mutism
Selective Mutism (SM) is a childhood anxiety disorder that rarely gets a mention in the media or in every day conversation. Everyone knows about Autism or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) thanks to increased publicity and awareness, but very little is known or understood about Selective Mutism. Unfortunately, children with Selective Mutism are often overlooked. They are considered as shy, or just thought to be going through a quiet stage. The biggest mistake of all regarding this disorder is the belief that the child will grow out of the problem.
Unfortunately, if left untreated SM can often lead to continued anxiety and depression, reduced self-esteem, avoidant and dependent personality disorders, which makes the condition even harder to treat later on in life. The reality is that these children are not choosing to be silent nor refusing to speak. They have just developed dysfunctional coping skills (mutism) to combat their anxiety. Many leading specialists believe that with the right treatment and the right approach, this disorder can be overcome especially if treated in the early stages.