As I wrote earlier this month, October is Selective Awareness Month. I still remember a phone conversation I had with my sister almost three years ago. I was describing my concerns about my then three year old son who would not speak in public and was reluctant to talk to his cousins and even his grandparents. She responded that she suspected that he may have Selective Mutism. A few weeks before, she had attended a workshop on S.M. so the symptoms were fresh in her mind. Not many days later, a good friend that I taught with told me about a middle school student with S.M. she had in class several years ago. She offered to let me borrow a book that this student had given to her. As I read it, I recall being completely in shock. This book could have been written about my son! Not only that, but the book is filled with much practical information and treatment options. Click the book cover below to read more about it on Amazon.
Here were two of my favorite people telling me about the same disorder, and even after twenty-two years of teaching, I had never heard of it! As it turned out, my son was diagnosed with this childhood anxiety disorder and still suffers today, although he has made tremendous progress.
In an effort to spread awareness to parents, teachers, and the general public, I want to share some "Fast Facts" about Selective Mutism:
1. The main symptom of Selective Mutism is a lack of speech in specific social situations.
2. People with Selective Mutism can and do talk normally in situations where they are entirely comfortable.
3. Children with Selective Mutism are often extremely talkative and loud when they feel comfortable.
4. It’s common for people with Selective Mutism to struggle to communicate in social situations even without their voice. Using whispering, writing, or gestures like pointing, nodding their head can be just as difficult. Smiling can be difficult as well.
5. Some people with Selective Mutism display stiff body language and a blank facial expression in situations where they have trouble communicating.
6. People with Selective Mutism are often of above-average intelligence.
7. Selective Mutism almost always develops before the age of six.
8. Selective Mutism is often first noticed when a child starts preschool or kindergarten.
9. School is the most common place for someone with Selective Mutism to be silent, and inside their house is the most common place for them to be able to talk.
10. Over 90% of people with Selective Mutism have social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, as well.
11. Without treatment, it’s not uncommon for childhood Selective Mutism to continue into teenage years or even adulthood, and it can become significantly worse rather than improving over time.
12. It’s thought that many children with untreated Selective Mutism grow into adults who can speak but suffer from severe social anxiety disorder and possibly depression.
13. The first name for Selective Mutism was “aphasia voluntaria” (voluntary lack of ability to speak), which was first mentioned in 1877.
14. The Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders first included Selective Mutism in 1980 as “elective mutism,” again meaning a voluntary lack of speech.
15. The new Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders classifies Selective Mutism as an anxiety disorder.
16. People with Selective Mutism usually say that they want to talk but either are too afraid to or feel like they physically can’t.
17. Selective Mutism sufferers almost never have control over when they speak normally and when they are silent, though it may look like they do.
18. Some people with Selective Mutism appear entirely calm and confident in social situations, though they may still feel extreme anxiety about actually speaking.
19. An "s" was added to the name "elective mutism" in 1994. The new name, "Selective Mutism," was supposed to avoid the implication that people with the disorder choose not to speak.
20. It’s common for people with Selective Mutism to have more than one other anxiety disorders or phobias
21. According to research, 0.1% to 0.7% of children have Selective Mutism. That’s one child in every 1000 to one in every 150.
22. Many people with high-functioning autism have Selective Mutism or symptoms of Selective Mutism, but the majority of people with Selective Mutism are not autistic.
Source: Selective Mutism Awareness
You can read about my personal experience with S.M. and learn more by reading my informative articles over at The Educator's Room where I am a contributor. Click the banner below~
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