Has your child’s teacher reported that he doesn’t speak as much? Does your child suddenly clam up when you arrive at a large family gathering or when you drop them off at dance class?
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If your child is completely different at home than they are in other settings, they may have selective mastication. Early detection and treatment are crucial for better outcomes down the road, as Selective Mutim is often misunderstood and can be misdiagnosed.
In the past, children who were thought to be shy ordefiant for not talking may actually meet the criteria for the procedure.
What is selective mutism?
More children may meet the criteria of a diagnosis than previously thought, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic, as it was believed that Selective Mutim was rare.
Many people thought that a child would grow out of the behavior.
She says that shyness is based on fear of the expectation to talk.
hy kids can do things when they need to, but they may not volunteer to read aloud to the class. The main difference is that shy children can still navigate.
What does selective mutism look like?
A child with a rare condition can talk in at least one other place, even if they don’t communicate in school.
The condition can affect both girls and boys. The age of onset is usually under 5 years old, but it is more evident when a child enters a structured social setting.
Children with selective mutism are overcome with anxiety when they are given a book report, are told to say hello to a friend or talk with their soccer coach. They are rendered frozen and unable to initiate or respond. They may be unable to assess their skills at school and in other settings because of this.
The child can have a different look to it.
Some children can only talk to their immediate family and no one else outside of the home.
Others may talk to relatives they don’t know as much as they might.
Some children may talk to other children but not adults outside of their home.
When others are listening, others may talk to their teacher, but freeze up in the larger group setting.
It is important to understand that there is a lot of variability in how it appears. These are some examples of what can happen when you mix things up.
Watch for these signs of selective mutism:
Frozen or unresponsive manner.
Rigid, “stiff as a board” body posture.
Expressionless, flat or “deer in headlights” face.
Slow to respond in a social situation.
Clinginess with parents when entering into social settings.
Early diagnosis is important
It is important for parents to trust their instincts. If you feel that your child is acting differently in certain settings, it is important to talk to your doctor.
The earlier you can make a diagnosis and intervene, the better the long-term outcome.
There are helpful tips for you and your child.
Dr. Eastman says that she tries to help the child to start to associate social settings with less anxiety and increased comfort as soon as possible.
She suggests the following initial strategies:
If you can lower verbal demands and expectations, your child will learn to associate social situations with comfort and positive feelings. Don’t start asking questions of the child when you walk into the party. This also means that they should not talk about the child not talking all the time tms because this can make the situation worse. Understand that your child will not enter into social situations as eagerly as other children. It is important to allow more time to ease into a situation, whether arriving early or allowing practice before entering the larger group. Think of ways to get your child more comfortable during the warm up time. Provide positive encouragement and use humor whenever possible to help them get started. Instead of posing questions that require a verbal answer, ask your child a question that allows a nod, thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Talk to your teachers, coaches and others to encourage them to ask your child the same questions. Work in steps, so that you can put your child in situations where they are comfortable and talking freely, introduce a new person, expand to a new setting or add a new demand. Don’t push your child to do everything at once. If you start slow and focus on your child’s comfort, it is okay to gently push them to progress. Setting goals just slightly beyond reach is beneficial and will yield change when done at the right time.
Don’t avoid social situations because of your child’s selective mutism. It is important to realize that a child with a bad disposition won’t improve if they are sitting at home with their family.
The child will reduce their anxiety with time and you will see progress.
Talk to your doctor about creating a plan of action. If not addressed, Selective Mutim can lead to worsened anxiety and social difficulty if not gone away. Treatment requires a plan between home and school.