How do you help a child with selective mutism?

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asked May 24 in Mental Health by KurwaMaster (1,190 points)
How do you help a child with selective mutism?

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answered May 25 by LindaHartzell (28,730 points)

To help a child with selective mutism you must be patient and understanding and never make fun of a child with selective mutism or try to shame them for not talking.

Also never try forcing the child to try and talk as the child cannot physically talk when they are in the awkward social situation with selective mutism.

Each person with selective mutism needs to work on different skills.

The doctor may suggest medication, which works for some people. SLPs will work to get your child comfortable talking in all situations.

Your child may need to work to change how she behaves at those times when she won’t talk. Or, she may need to work on her speech and language.

Treatments can help with selective mutism but it cannot be cured.

To help change your child’s behavior, the SLP may use:

  • Stimulus fading. Your child may be with someone they talk to easily at first. Then, a new person may slowly join in. This will help your child get comfortable with new situations.
  • Shaping. The SLP will praise or give rewards to your child for trying to communicate. Your child may first only point or use other gestures. Then, he may mouth a word, which means saying it silently, or whisper. The goal is for your child to speak in all situations.
  • Self-modeling technique. Your child may watch videos of herself talking in a comfortable situation, like at home. This may help her feel more confident about how she speaks. She may then try speaking in other situations.

The SLP will also work with your child on any speech or language problems that he may have.

This may include helping him say sounds clearly or helping him say words loudly. The SLP may also help him use words to ask questions or talk about his thoughts. Your child may be more willing to talk to others once he feels better about how he sounds.

The SLP may also work with others in the places where your child has trouble.

This may include your child’s teachers, counselors, coaches, or family members. The goal is for your child to be comfortable talking in any situation.

It is possible to develop selective mutism as a teenager or even as an adult.

Although most people have selective mustim as a child and then it either worsens as the child grows up or it may get better.

While selective mutism (SM) is an anxiety disorder often associated with young children, teens and adults can also suffer from SM.

In many cases, teens with SM have been struggling with anxiety for years.

Having Selective Mutism is a bad feeling for the person as the person may want to talk but physically cannot talk around others they are not comfortable with.

A child or adult who has selective mutism feels really bad as they are suffering from anxiety and it gets really stressful for the child or adult to need to talk in social situations.

When a child or adult has selective mutism it means that the child or adult literally cannot speak in those social situations as the anxiety is preventing it.

My brothers teacher would always try to force my brother too talk in school but he could not do it and it was not a choice by him.

Some people believe that a child refusing to speak is doing so just because they don't want too but it's not that way.

A child who has selective mutism is unable to speak as it's not a choice.

There's nothing you can do to force the child to speak in those social situations.

Doing so makes it worse for them.

When a child or adult has selective mutism and is asked to speak it triggers a freeze and panic response and then the kid is unable to speak.

It's not something the child is choosing to do.

Children with selective mutism also may not want to sit near other kids in school or will want to play alone.

Nothing the teachers or anyone does will make the child speak.

Selective Mutism can be seen as a form of autism however most people with autism do not speak that much at home or in social situations.

However kids with selective mutism tend to just be shy and not talk in social situations around strangers such as in school, daycare, church, babysitters etc.

But at home and around parents, siblings and people they are comfortable with the child will talk just fine.

However some kids have a less severe form of autism and may seem normal otherwise but just not maintain eye contact, be uncomfortable around other people and just not want to talk.

For most people who have selective mutism the selective mutism does not go away and stays with the person for life.

However for some people selective mutism can partially go away in adulthood.

My brother has selective mutism and he was really shy in elementary school and would not talk to the teachers or anyone.

However at home where he was comfortable he would talk really good and you could hardly shut him up.

Now as an adult he does still suffer from selective mutism but his selective mutism as an adult is not that bad.

He will converse with strangers now more easily than he used too.

My own 8 year old son has selective mutism as well and he will not talk at school or around strangers but at home he is very comfortable talking.

So the selective mutism can sometimes go away but most times it does not go away.

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