Selective Mutism (SM) is characterized by the inability to speak in certain settings for at least one month, but to consistently use effective verbal communication skills with comfortable partners. Typically, clients who have SM speak to their parents/caregivers or other family members and a few selected others. Most are unable to speak in school, and in other important social situations. These clients understand spoken language and have the ability to speak normally. SM is considered a social anxiety disorder. This disorder can interfere with learning, social skills, and quality of life.
Signs and Symptoms of Selective Mutism
- Extreme shyness
- Reluctance to speak in some settings
- Fear of people
- Lack of eye contact
- Lack of facial expressions
- Immobility in some settings
- Nervous fidgeting in social situations
- Withdrawn when approached or touched
How Communication Works Can Help
At Communication Works (CW), we assist the client with SM through a combination of play therapy, behavioral techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), sensory support, pragmatic language therapy, as well as school, parent, and family education and support. We focus on the whole person and incorporate a team approach involving the client, parent/caregiver, school personnel, and other professionals
Therapeutic support emphasizes building social comfort and progression of communication comfort in various social settings in and out of school. Since anxiety levels change from situation to situation, and often from one person to the next, methods often change from one social situation to another. Therefore, by lowering anxiety, increasing self-esteem, and improving communication and social confidence within a variety of real-world settings, the client suffering in silence will develop necessary coping skills to enable better social, emotional, developmental, and academic functioning. At CW we are experienced and passionate about supporting those with SM and their families.