Saturday, March 29, 2008

Is it Shyness or Selective Mutism?

A parent might wonder why their child is socially shy, but there could be something more serious that should be looked into. In my search for different and interesting topics to write, I came across selective mutism. In researching selective mutism I discovered that parents who were not aware of this disorder could become completely frustrated toward their child.

Selective mutism is described as a psychological disorder in children. Children with this disorder are fluent and have an understanding of the language but fail to speak in certain social situations. Parents often believe their child is refusing to speak due to shyness, but with selective mutism the child is truly unable to speak. It can appear as there is nothing wrong since the child’s functions are normal in other areas of behavior and learning. During these periods the child becomes severely withdrawn in such things as group activities which are due to their extreme anxiety. These group activities typically occur in school or social settings.

Children acting withdrawn from selective mutism unfortunately sometimes may be confused with an autism spectrum disorder which can lead to incorrect treatment. The main difference between selective mutism and autism is that the child with selective mutism can communicate normally when in a situation where they feel comfortable. These are some of the characteristics of selective mutism:
  • Will not speak in specific social situations but will at home
  • Temper tantrums
  • A difficulty in maintaining eye contact
  • A reluctance to smile
  • Displays blank facial expressions
  • Awkward body movements
  • Anxious saying hello, goodbye, thank you, etc
  • Worry about things more than other people
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Sensitivity in crowds or crowded situations
  • Difficulty with non-verbal expression
  • Fear of using public restrooms
  • Compulsive traits
  • Clinging behavior
  • Extremely shy
  • Fearful of people
If you feel your child has selective mutism you should consult a professional. To truly secure your children when they can not speak for themselves, it is crucial to have a MedFN® account. Having their alphanumeric access code on them at all time will give them a voice. Med File Now® is doing its part to bring safety to your children.