What is selective mutism?

This childhood anxiety disorder limits a child’s ability to speak in specific social settings. For example, this could include school, church, or in the presence of senior family members. As mutism is selective, the child can be ordinarily chatty when in other situations. When placed into a situation that brings their selective mutism forward, though, they feel insecure, uncomfortable, and agitated.

Most of the time, selective mutism is brought about by a genuine fear of speaking when expected. In school, for example, all students are expected to communicate and take part in the lesson. This can be nearly impossible for a child with selective mutism. When there is a feeling of expectation to talk, this can cause a child with selective mutism to feel uncomfortable.

What is the cause of selective mutism?

The vast majority of cases of a child having selective mutism stems from their natural inclination to feel anxious. This can be genetic in a child, meaning that in many cases anxiety is almost hereditary. If you have a parent with consistent bouts of stress, you stand a greater chance of suffering.

The most common selective mutism cases are found in children with extreme anxiety. This can result in tantrums, regular crying, mood swings, problems sleeping, and a consistent and perpetual shyness.

Some studies suggest that a part of the brain, the amygdala, is responsible in part for these episodes. The amygdala sets off a signal in the mind when we are put in a position of fear in a bid to help us protect ourselves from harm. In the mind of a child with selective mutism, though, these fearful situations can include situations where, normally, we would seek joy.

This could include birthday parties, family events, typical daily tasks, and/or attending school. The challenge stems from finding out what causes episodes of fear in each child with selective mutism. In the case where a child also has a speech disorder, a learning disability, and/or a processing disorder, they might feel even more anxious when placed in situations where they are expected to speak.

Can selective mutism be overcome?

In time, yes, though it does depend on the severity. The most significant cases of selective mutism can be hard to overcome, even as a child moves into teenage life and eventually moves into adulthood. Treatment needs to be focused on methods that fit in with each specific child; there is no blanket ‘cure’ for selective mutism. It is a process that requires consistent effort and no shortage of time committed to the well-being of the child.

Typically diagnosed in a child between the ages of three and eight, shyness will often be prevalent in a child from their youngest years. If the mutism seems to persist for more than a month, for example, it should be taken up with a physician to see what can be done to find solutions.

Most of the time, it requires creating a ‘safe space’ for development around the child. Empathizing with their fear and understanding and patience will be required to help the child overcome their shyness and fear overall. Parents should read closely about the topic to understand the signs, symptoms, and potential causes.

Treatment comes in many forms, from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to behavioral therapy, play therapy, and social communication anxiety therapy. This is a long path and one that is not easy to walk; for any parent serious about helping someone with selective mutism, though, the process has to start somewhere.

Selective mutism in Cambodia

The aspects determining a child’s selective mutism are often unique to the child. In Cambodia, there is a growing understanding and awareness of this particular problem. Indeed, we have noted a rise in the number of children diagnosed with selective mutism in Phnom Penh.

Therefore, we look to provide all of the support that we can to help individuals with selective mutism to find ways to overcome the condition as best they can. We can also support parents and guardians in working through this adolescent challenge.

Need help with selective mutism in Phnom Penh?

Then do not hesitate to contact our team at The OrbRom Center. We have staff who provide a professional selective mutism service so you can get all of the support and assistance you need. Whether you are dealing with selective mutism or a member of your family/friendship group, we can provide you with the support you need to understand selective mutism.

If you are serious about learning, then one-on-one classes at OrbRom Center are the best way to go. Our experienced teachers will help you achieve your academic goals. Contact us TODAY.

Welcome to OrbRom Centre

Choosing learning support for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make, and I welcome you to discover more about why OrbRom is the best option in Phnom Penh.

  • Email: sophaneth.sec@gmail.com
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H. Sophaneth B.Ed, M.Ed

Welcome to OrbRom Centre

Choosing learning support for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make, and I welcome you to discover more about why OrbRom is the best option in Phnom Penh.