WHAT IS SELECTIVE MUTISM.
Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder in which the person is able to speak happily and fluently in some situations but not others. Selective mutism is like a phobia of talking.
Usually people are able to talk in at least some settings where they feel comfortable - but sm can progress so that a person is unable to speak at all - this is called progressive mutism.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT MY CHILD HAS SELECTIVE MUTISM
If you suspect your child has selective mutism you can make an appointment to see your gp who may refer you to either Camhs or Speech and Language therapy in the UK. It is also possible to self refer to speech and language therapy.
The facebook group SMIRA ( selective mutism information and research association) has a wealth of parents and professionals to connect with aswell as documents to read and information to hand out to people .
The SM Space cafe on facebook is a good place to go to relax and have a chat amongst friends if you are a sufferer, a professional or a parent of a child with sm.
There is a lot that you can do as a parent or individual to educate yourself about sm and support someone. If professional help is not forthcoming then all hope is not lost . Often parents or friends can be a young person's greatest advocate. Please join the sm space cafe or smira to get more advice on how to help.
I AM AN ADULT WITH SM - HELP!
It is never too late to help yourself overcome your anxiety. Join the Smira facebook group and the SM Space Cafe to connect with friends and go and see your GP who should be able to refer you for further help. There are many things that people who are motivated can do to help themselves lessen their anxiety such as taking small steps towards your goal. If you are able to reach out then please do join the sm space cafe where you can connect with others who are all very friendly and will be able to offer you peer support in a safe environment .
WHO SHOULD I GO TO FOR HELP?
Try and not worry too much and confide in a friend or family member if you feel they will be supportive. Make an appointment to see your GP who can refer you to the right help.
WHAT SHOULD I TELL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY?
You can tell your friends and family that your child has selective mutism which is a presentation of anxiety. Anxiety has genetic links and it is not due to lifestyle or parenting choices. Although there can be trigger factors in an already anxious child, sometimes these are undiscernable. Smira ( on facebook) has many downloadable information files that are suitable to hand out to friends and family. Sometimes family do not understand and may think your child is being willful or choosing not to speak. Try to not let this upset you too much and point them in the direction of further online information. Above all friends and families should know not to make a fuss if they do hear your child speak. Children, and also adults, with sm, do not like to be put in the spotlight and the best way to make them feel at ease is to act as if nothing has happened and make no comment, unless they themselves bring it up.
WHAT SHOULD THE SCHOOL BE DOING TO SUPPORT MY CHILD?
If the school and Senco do not know very much about selective mutism, you can print out information from the files section on the SMIRA facebook group for them to read and gain an understanding. The school should remove all pressure for your child to speak and instead work with you to put into place a small steps programme for what is known as 'sliding in' .
How long will it take to get better?
Does treatment always work?
What about medication?
Why do professionals not always understand?
What can I do to help myself/my child?
How can I connect with people in real life?
Please do contact me if you have ideas for this page as the site is a work in progress and I appreciate all feedback.