Selective Mutism

Selective Mutism Anxiety Therapy

When a child doesn't talk at all, there may be a medical condition or a developmental delay and not a condition known as selective mutism. When a child speaks and understands language, but doesn't speak in certain situations, he or she might have selective mutism. It is a condition that was commonly associated with autism, but is now recognized as an anxiety disorder. When a child is accurately diagnosed with this condition, selective mutism anxiety therapy will be recommended to treat the disorder. With early intervention and effective therapy, children with selective mutism will be able to overcome their anxiety and function in a variety of social situations.

Types of Selective Mutism Anxiety Therapy

Once a child with selective mutism is evaluated by a psychologist, therapy will be able to begin. These are some of the types of therapy that are effective in treating this anxiety disorder:

  • Play Therapy for Selective Mutism - this is an effective therapy choice for children because they will be relaxed and less anxious when they are playing. Progress in play therapy must be able to be transitioned into real life social situations.
  • Family Therapy for Selective Mutism - this therapy helps people who have a family member that is in treatment for selective mutism. The family is taught to be gentle, encouraging, supportive, and reassuring.
  • Psychotherapy for Selective Mutism - a child who has selective mutism may need to meet with a psychologist regularly to be able to learn how to overcome his or her anxiety in social situations.
  • Drug Therapy for Selective Mutism - some children with this disorder have such high anxiety that it affects their quality of life, so a psychiatrist will prescribe medication. Drug therapy is most effective when combined with other therapies so the child has the opportunity to develop skills to help him or her overcome selective mutism.

Usually a combination of different therapies is the most effective in treating this condition. Drug therapy should be avoided when possible. If it is needed, the lowest most effective dosage should be given and withdrawn as soon as possible.

Beginning Therapy for Selective Mutism

The earlier therapy begins the more effective it will be. The initial inability to speak in certain situations can be complicated because further anxiety can develop when there is pressure on the child to speak at school, church, or other social gathering. Minimizing the experiences of not being able to speak because of selective mutism will reduce the risk of other anxiety problems developing. Prompt diagnosis and early intervention therapy for selective mutism is very effective, but older children benefit from selective mutism anxiety therapy, too; it just might take longer to see results.

Selective Mutism and Autism

Selective mutism was once thought to be a symptom of autism, but with autism the child will not speak in all situations, not just some situations. Autistic children also have anxiety problems so it is easy for the symptoms of autism to overlap with selective mutism symptoms. An experienced mental healthcare provider will be able to sort it out and choose the best course of therapy.