As awareness of physical and mental health comes to fore, it is pertinent that parents/guardians/teachers take a closer look at children kept under their watch. You never know, your child could be exhibiting traits of Autism and/or Selective Mutism for instance. With that in mind, always remember that the child must always be in an excellent state, as that is the only way they can learn!
So what do you do when this particular kid in class looks left out and barely participates during lessons? Do you assume he/she is just having an off day? What happens when it continues to repeat itself? You make an inquest. Congratulations, you've just realized that something is wrong. What then can you do? In this article, you will learn all you need to know about the extra quiet kids in the classroom.
What is Selective Mutism?
Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder. It is characterized by a child's inability to speak and communicate effectively in most especially in social settings, for example, at school. Children with selective mutism are only able to speak freely and interact in situations where they feel at home.
Selective mutism is a disorder. One that prevents children from performing maximally in key areas of their lives. A common misconception is that kids will outgrow selective mutism with time, but this is usually not true. For an individual to overcome Selective Mutism and all its associated anxieties there will be a need for them to be involved in a treatment program.
Is Selective Mutism a Disability? No
Selective Mutism is not a Learning disability, Emotional disturbance, nor Speech/Language impairment. The reason is simply that Selective Mutism is not linked to anything else. A Selectively Mute student who displays any of these conditions would then have an additional and separate education need.
Is Selective Mutism a form of Autism? No
Selective Mutism, commonly found in children and often mistaken and misdiagnosed to be Autism. At the surface level, some of the characteristics may appear to mimic Autistic behaviors, but they aren’t the same.
What Causes Selective Mutism?
To be fair, nobody actually knows. The cause, or causes, are unknown. Experts believe that children with the condition inherit a tendency to be anxious and inhibited. Most children with selective mutism exhibit variants of extreme social fear (phobia). Parents often assume that the child is choosing not to speak.
Myths about Selective Mutism
A lot of individuals have common misconceptions about selective mutism. It is important to debunk the myths and understand the facts. The focus should be on getting the children the help they need. The following are common myths about selective mutism:
How to Identify a child with Selective Mutism
Observe each student over a period of time, find what interests the child (games, subjects), check the family background and try to professionally understand the child's home.
Befriend them genuinely, help them understand the consequences of their silence, understand their reasons for being quiet, teach confidence, and deliberately engage them in speaking activities. Use true love to do this, and you can't go wrong.
Symptoms of selective mutism can also include the following:
Do’s and Don'ts When Interacting with a child with Selective Mutism
When interacting with a child who has Selective Mutism, DO:
When interacting with a child who has Selective Mutism, DO NOT:
Awareness of Selective Mutism is only gaining traction in recent times.Selective mutism, at its core, is an anxiety disorder. A typical experience is having the words to say, but being physically unable to vocalize them. The vocal cords tighten up and simply refuse to work even though they can and do work in very specific safe situations or with specific people. We need to be of as much help as we possibly can.
Selective Mutism Awareness Month is observed in October and sponsored by the Selective Mutism Association.
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