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Selective Mutism: Described

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Selective Mutism Described

Reprinted with the express permission of Selective Mutism Group (SMG) as originally published on their website.

By: Angela McHolm, Ph.D., Director, and Melanie Vanier, M.A. (Ph.D. Candidate), Staff, of the Selective Mutism Service, McMaster Children’s Hospital, Hamilton, Canada.


What Is Selective Mutism?

Selective mutism is a childhood psychological disorder originally thought to be quite rare
among children. Early prevalence studies estimated that less than 1% of children are
affected by this condition. However, more recent studies suggest that upward to 2% of
children in the primary grades may be characterized as selectively mute (e.g.,
Kumpulainen et al., 1998). In order to be diagnosed with selective mutism, children
must exhibit a persistent failure to speak in some social situations (e.g., at school with
the teacher/classmates), while demonstrating a comfortable use of speech in other
situations (e.g., at home with immediate family). The discrepancy in speech usage
must have persisted for longer than one month and be present beyond the first month of
entry into school or the daycare setting (DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association,
1994). The discrepancy across settings is typically quite striking; it is not uncommon for
parents to describe a “chatty” child at home, while teachers have yet to even hear the
child’s voice.

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Featured Organization: Selective Mutism Group ~ Childhood Anxiety Network (SMG)

We thank Selective Mutism Group ~ Childhood Anxiety Network for allowing PediaStaff to reprint their article.

Selective Mutism Group (SMG), part of the Childhood Anxiety Network, is the nation's premier resource for information on Selective Mutism (SM). SMG, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information, resources and support to those impacted by a child with the anxiety disorder known as Selective Mutism (SM). Visit their website at :www.selectivemutism.org

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