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What is Selective Mutism?

Selective Mutism (SM) is a severe anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak in social situations despite being completely able to talk. These children are typically chatterboxes at home and often silent in public. They do not speak in social situations such as school classrooms or the playground, or with certain people, such as their teacher, sports coach or peers. It’s not that they won’t but rather they can’t. That’s what severe anxiety can do to a young child. SM interferes with social interactions and can impact educational achievement if not treated. 


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A common myth is that children with SM are being oppositional or that they were traumatized. This is not at all true. Children with SM can actually feel frozen, due to extreme anxiety. This disorder is different from kids who are “shy” and since these kids don’t typically have any behavioral concerns they can actually go an entire school year without speaking in a school setting. Kids don’t just grow out of SM and families should seek professional help early for best outcomes.

Are you concerned your child might have Selective Mutism?

If you want to find out more about a Selective Mutism evaluation and how to obtain one 

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