Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder and is in no way related to communication disorders, mental retardation or auditory deficits. Children with this disorder are perfectly able to hear and articulate the word, but they have an emotional block that prevents them from expressing themselves in certain situations. The first symptoms occur between 2 and 6 years. This is a fairly rare disorder since it only suffers from a child above 1000 with a greater incidence in males. Children with selective mutism in situations where they can not express themselves with verbal language use the body or in extreme cases remain silent to look until the interlocutor does not understand what he needs.
The causes of selective mutism are most often to be found in a previous trauma or severe social phobia. Most children affected by it have an inherited predisposition to depression and anxiety. Selective mutism also involves specific symptoms such as sleep disturbances, shyness, anxiety of separation, fear and restlessness.
Selective mutism is not always identified and understood and the child tends to be isolated from his peers, punished at school and in the family because he is considered stubborn, authoritarian, and in some cases even delayed. All of this has a negative impact on the psychophysical development of the baby that is isolated and closes more and more in itself.
There is no standard treatment for selective mutism, but the most widely used approach is multimodal with a combination of cognitive – behavioral therapies and pharmacological treatments. The ultimate purpose of selective mutism treatments is to reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem and self-confidence.
Relaxation techniques are also used and exhorts the child to speak verbally. The family and the school in this path play a key role. Parents must follow a real path to understand what selective mutism is and how to deal with it in the good of the child.
The school in turn must act in such a way as to avoid creating further anxieties and fears in the child and learning to get in touch with his emotions and feelings in order to scratch the shell in which the child tends to close to defend himself. When subjected to appropriate treatment, children with selective mutism return to talk and confront with others.