Children with selective mutism (SM) are not able to speak or communicate with specific people in some situations because of excessive shyness or social anxiety. It means they speak only at the place they feel comfortable but then they suddenly stop speaking usually in school or social settings.
The severe form of SM i.e progressive mutism, makes the person entirely unspoken in any situation to anyone, even with close family members. Well, today I’m going to talk about what could cause selective mutism.
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Selective Mutism is most common in children under age 3. The causes are different and yet unknown. Some tested reasons are:
Causes of selective mutism:
Social anxiety disorder –
- In some studies, most children with selective mutism inherit a tendency to be anxious and inhibited temperaments. An over-excitability of the area of the brain considered as Amygdala plays a key role in social anxiety disorder.
- This area involves emotions of fear and aggression. It receives indications of potential danger or harmful events and begins to set off a 100% fight-or-flight response. In this manner, a social anxiety disorder may cause selective mutism.
Trouble processing sensory information-
- Near about 30% of children with SM have some auditory processing difficulties or in other words have speech or language disorder. In unacquainted situations, it may cause anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed. Effectively, the child to stop and not be able to speak.
- Children with SM are cooperative or manageable in their school as compared to others. It means to say they have less defensive ratings than their peers in the school setting.
Besides, Selective Mutism Anxiety Research and Treatment Center (SMart Center) reveals that multilingual/bilingual family’s children are more likely headed towards SM.
They spend their time in a foreign country at the time of language development stage (ages 2 to 4). As a result, the additional stress of speaking the second language increases anxiety level or mutism.
Apart from the above, there is not enough evidence to show that childhood trauma or some stressful life events can progress the condition of selective mutism.
Moreover, Selective mutism comes under Fifth Edition or DSM-5 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Professionals, as well as others, use the DSM-5 to treat social and mental problems.