Selective Mutism

Selective Mutism

What are these difficulties characterised by?

Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder in which a child is fearful to talk in certain situations. A child may be described as ‘chatty’ or a ‘confident talker’ by parents at home but is unable to talk, or in some cases, communicate in other places/situations and demonstrates  ‘phobia-like’ behaviours, e.g a frozen expression.

The essential feature of Selective Mutism is the persistent inability to speak in specific situations when they do speak in other situations. 

A Selective Mutism diagnosis is likely to be given when 

  • the inability to speak interferes with a child’s education and overall development.
  • the lack of spoken language must not be due to a lack of knowledge of the language for example if they are new to the country. 
  • the lack of spoken language cannot be better explained by a communication disorder (e.g. stammering, a speech sound disorder etc).

How does this impact the child?

A child/young person with Selective Mutism may be really chatty at home but may not be able to talk to adults or friends in school. This means that it may be difficult for students to access verbal assessments and can make it difficult for teachers to appropriately assess their learning.

If a child has entrenched/high-profile SM it also may make it difficult for them to talk to and make new friends and, if not appropriately supported, may lead to further anxiety relating to certain settings and can affect school participation and attendance.

How can ChatterBug support your child?

The child will be observed in whatever setting they are having difficulty in. In school a key person will be identified and the SLT will coach them in how to help the child with SM. 

ChatterBug SLTs are equipped with the skills to appropriately assess your child by using a range of assessment tools, including parent questionnaires and nonverbal assessments that will not put pressure on your child to talk. 

ChatterBug SLTs can provide bespoke training, targeted and specialist support, as required, both to support staff and parents to develop the skills and strategies to support their child, and to support the child’s confident communication skills. 

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