Has the teacher indicated that your child does not speak easily or regularly at school? Does your usually playful and talkative child suddenly stop talking when you arrive at social events, parks, etc.? If your child is a completely different person at home or abroad, he may have selective mutism.
To raise awareness of the relatively less well-known disorder, October is chosen as Selective Momentum Awareness Month annually. Individuals around the world are trying to spread awareness about the condition and together they aim to build a safer and more compassionate community for people with selective mutism.
On the occasion of this Selective Mute Awareness Month, let’s dive deeper into what the condition is and how it affects individuals’ lives.
What is selective silence?
Selective muteness is a serious anxiety disorder found in children and is defined by the inability to speak or communicate properly in social situations. It is very common for children with selective silence to be very talkative and talkative at home but to be silent when they are with other people.
Parents and caregivers are generally able to detect signs of selective mutism when a child is three or four years old. However, in some cases, the condition may not be detected until the child is older to go to school and their speaking problems become more noticeable.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), selective mutism affects 1 in 140 children and is particularly common in young girls or children trying to learn a second language.
If left untreated, selective mutism can cause significant impairment and persist into adulthood.
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Selective mutism can have different levels and types of symptoms depending on the child. However, some common symptoms include:
- Speak freely and openly at home, but resort to nonverbal communication in social settings,
- inability to talk to familiar people (including parents) in social settings,
- Having difficulty communicating with classmates and teachers at school,
- avoid eye contact with others,
- They find it difficult to complete tasks while looking at them, etc.
Myths about selective muteness
Selective mutism is a relatively rare and less well-known disorder, which gives rise to many myths and stereotypes. Caregivers and sometimes pediatricians can mistake the disorder as just shyness. People also believe that the child is deliberately choosing not to be a part of the social conversation rather than being aware of the deeper underlying issues.
Another misconception regarding selective muteness is that it generally stems from traumatic events in the past. On the contrary, children who are silent because of traumatic events in the past behave in this way in every case. However, children with selective mutism only show symptoms while they are in certain conditions.
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treatment or treatment
The good news is that selective mutism is a treatable condition, and most children can recover completely with proper care. The most common treatment methods include behavioral therapy, which teaches children to talk in new places and with different people. Treatment options can also include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
The longer selective silence goes undiagnosed, the more difficult it is to treat the condition. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are key to a proper recovery. This is why Selective Mute Awareness Month is essential to educate and warn people about this disorder.
On the way to spreading awareness, let us take you to another serious but less well known issue in the field of mental health. Aphantasia, or blindness in the mind, is a condition in which people lack the ability to form mental images. To learn more about it, click over here.
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