Selective Mutism

Selective Mutism Causes

There are many theories on the causes of selective mutism and the origins or roots of the disorder. Often selective mutism is not diagnosed properly. It may be diagnosed as a form of autism or as an anxiety disorder, which prevents accurate data to be gathered to fully understand the causes of selective mutism. Though the cause may not be clear, there are successful treatments for selective mutism to choose from. It is natural for parents to feel responsible and many parents are quick to blame themselves whenever something goes wrong with their children's health. This is something that you should not do when it comes to selective mutism though. While nobody quite understands what the root cause of this disorder, you should know that you’d be more effective focusing on treatment than spending time and energy focusing on the cause. However, if you still feel the need to understand the cause of this disorder, we will take a closer look at that here.

Hereditary or Genetic Cause of Selective Mutism

Doctors are unable to say that this is a hereditary or genetic disorder. However, they do notice that selective mutism does occur more often when the child's parents have passed on to them a predisposition towards anxiety. Some of it may be a learned response.

Selective Mutism and the Fight-or-Flight Response

Another thing that doctors have noticed is that those who suffer from selective mutism also have an overly excitable amygdala. This is the part of the brain that received indications of possible threats and thus sets off the fight-or-flight response within a person. Therefore, it is believed that those who suffer from selective mutism have their speech shut down whenever they enter into a situation where they need to speak. This is because their fight response is on high and thus they see such situations as a threat to their safety.

Selective Mutism and Speech Disorders

It is also interesting to note that between 20 to 30% of these children also have another speech or language disorder that adds additional stress, which in turn increases their inability to speak. Growing up in a bilingual family or having lived in a foreign country may cause some of these speech disorders. In either case these children may be extremely insecure in the language that they are suppose to speak.

Abuse and Selective Mutism

While it has also been said that children who suffer from selective mutism have suffered from abuse, neglect or trauma, there is no evidence of this being the case. The main difference is the fact that those children who have selective mutism almost always speak in some situations. However, those children who suffer from mutism that has been induced by trauma will simply become suddenly silent in all situations, not just "some."

Now that you know what doctors believe to be selective mutism causes, it is time to move on to caring for your child who has this disorder. Blaming yourself will do nothing but fighting for proper selective mutism treatment will do wonders.