Selective mutism is a complex psychological disorder caused by anxiety. Average onset is 3.7 years of age. Generally, selective mutism is called shyness for several years until a child enters school and does not function verbally in school and most social situations outside of school. Parents and teachers become very concerned and seek further assistance and diagnosis. These children have the ability to speak and understand language, develop age appropriate skills, and function normally at home with most family members and are, therefore, often misdiagnosed. If this nonverbal behavior outside of the home lasts for a period of time, it becomes a learned pattern and is quite difficult to overcome, because the longer a child is silent, the more entrenched the behavior becomes.
Most school personnel do not have the expertise or experience to deal with a child having this disorder which is caused by anxiety and avoidance. The numbers of children identified ...See More