Voice for Selective Mutism
Is your child chatty at home but silent in kindergarten or school? Is your teen struggling to connect and chat in intermediate or high school? Do you know someone who is very quiet and finds it challenging to chat at work or university?
If any of this sounds familiar, you or someone you know could be suffering from an anxiety condition called Selective Mutism.
Selective Mutism also known as Situational Mutism and SM for short, is an anxiety condition which triggers the freeze response. Those who suffer from Selective Mutism fail to talk in certain social situations like school, despite being able to chat freely at home.
Mannerisms are an expectation in our society, and as parents we naturally want our children to be polite and well mannered. However, when you have Selective Mutism some of the hardest words to say are the pleasantries, because they come with a high expectation. Sadly, when our tamariki do not meet these social expectations they are often mislabelled as rude and defiant. These negative connotations can entrench the Selective Mutism and cause the person to withdraw inward.
Selective Mutism also affects non verbal communication such as eye contact, facial expressions, waving, passing notes, and even writing and drawing.
Selective Mutism is Not a choice; those who suffer from this condition want to be social and want to talk but they can't. Selective Mutism is not shyness or wilfulness. There have been tamariki who have been severely hurt at school and not been able to seek help until home time. Selective Mutism is not limited to childhood, left untreated it can continue into adolescence and adulthood.