Children and adults who suffer with selective mutism, often known as SM, have a severe anxiety illness that causes them to be unable to communicate in specific social circumstances, such as at school, on the job, or in public. People who experience social anxiety may have difficulty communicating in the presence of acquaintances or relatives they have only seen a handful of times. People who have social phobia may give the impression that they are overly timid when they are in public, but when they are at home with their close family and loved ones, they are able to communicate without any difficulty. The disorder is more prevalent in females. In most cases, the diagnosis of SM is made during childhood, and it often appears in conjunction with other forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety or separation anxiety. The distinction between being shy and having social anxiety is a habit of being unable to talk that continues over time and severely disrupts everyday life and normal functioning. This is what differentiates shyness from social anxiety. The individual has difficulty making eye contact, uses non-verbal ways of communication, communicates via another person, and seems to be behaviorally constrained. These are all characteristics that are typical to social phobia.

A youngster who suffers from selective mutism may be unable to converse in some social contexts (most often school), yet they are able to communicate normally in at least one other environment (typically home). Although the illness may affect both girls and boys, it often has a greater effect on females than it does on boys. Under the age of five is the typical age of onset, however the condition is often more noticeable when a kid joins a structured social situation (such as preschool or daycare). Children who suffer from selective mutism experience overwhelming anxiety whenever they are faced with social situations that need them to speak, such as presenting a book report, saying hello to a classmate, or conversing with their coach during soccer practice. Therefore, individuals are rendered immobile and unable to react or begin action of any kind. Because of this, their experience at school and in other social contexts may be impaired, their instructors may be unable to evaluate them, and they may have difficulty interacting with other people in social settings.

If you have reason to suspect that your kid may be suffering from selective mutism, it is imperative that you seek the assistance and support of mental health specialists as soon as you possibly can. Early identification and treatment for mental health issues associated with the disease might boost the likelihood of your kid overcoming or significantly improving symptoms associated with the disorder. Treatment for selective mutism in adults may still be beneficial; however, the procedure may take longer owing to the behaviors associated with the disorder having grown more ingrained over time.

Because SM is an illness that other people have a tendency to adapt to, which may actually make it harder to cure, it is very crucial that everyone in a child's life be included in the treatment process. For instance, if you are aware that your kid has stress while placing an order at a restaurant, you may offer to answer the question "what would you like to eat?" on her behalf whenever the server poses the question. This cycle of "rescuing" just serves to reinforce the possibility that she will continue to stay quiet while there are waiters around, despite the fact that your goal is to make her feel more at ease. As part of their therapy plan, parents and other caregivers may assist children in developing coping mechanisms, rather than "saving" children who struggle with anxiety. Your child's clinician should be able to provide helpful suggestions and recommendations in this regard. Even while she may not totally overcome her anxiety, she will become better able to deal with the suffering it causes.


SM Foundation

SM research association