An Overview of Selective Mutism Essay

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Hesselman coined the term “selective mutism” in 1983 to describe the disorder previously called “aphasia voluntaria, elective mutism, speech phobia, psychological mutism, and hearing mute” among fourteen other historic terms (Dow, Freeman, Garcia, Leonard, & Miller, 2004; Kearney, 2010). The American Psychiatric Association, or APA, characterizes selective mutism by a “persistent failure to speak in specific social situations where speech is expected, despite speaking in other situations.” Selective mutism shifted in recent years from being viewed as a response to trauma sustained early in life to a manifestation of an anxiety disorder (Dow et al, 2004). This paper briefly covers all aspects of selective mutism from signs and symptoms to…show more content…
(Beidel & Turner, 2005, p. 229) Many children with selective mutism speak normally, and often, while around or in familiar people and situations. Situations recognized as familiar and comfortable vary for each child. Generally, children feel most comfortable in their home. One child might whisper to a teacher at school while another child might only speak to one friend in the school setting. While children with selective mutism might have several close friends, the environment in which they are determines whether the child will interact with them. Many will speak freely during play-dates at home and not say one word while at school. Most parents fail to recognize their child’s disorder until early kindergarten years and contribute the lack of speech prior to entering school as shyness or fear. The average age of onset for selective mutism occurs between three and five years (Beidel & Turner,
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