Selective Mutism

Selective Mutism Common Questions

Selective mutism can be a very confusing disorder for parents to deal with. There are a lot of questions that you may be searching for answers to. Here are some of the most common questions.

When should you call your child's pediatrician?

If you find that this mutism is interfering with your child's education or causing him social problems, by all means call your child's pediatrician.

What tests need to be done in order to diagnose a child with selective mutism?

There needs to be a team approach to diagnose a child with selective mutism. This team should consist of a speech-language pathologist (SLP), a pediatrician and either a psychologist or a psychiatrist. These professionals should make every effort to work with the child and his parents and teachers. Together these professionals will present 5 different types of tests to the child:

  1. A review of their educational history.
  2. A hearing screening.
  3. An oral-motor examination.
  4. An interview of the parent or the primary caregiver.
  5. A speech and language evaluation.

Of course, each of these evaluations requires several pieces of information be obtained in order for a proper diagnosis to be made.

What is the prognosis for selective mutism?

While prognosis for this disorder often varies, if selective mutism is left untreated it could become more severe. This is why it is so important to reach a proper diagnosis so that therapy and intervention can take place before the child reaches their teenage or adulthood years.

Are there any support groups for parents whose children have selective mutism?

There are numerous support groups available for those parents whose child has been diagnosed with selective mutism. Some of these include: K12 Academics, the NYU Child Study Center, the Selective Mutism Foundation and the Selective Mutism and Childhood Anxiety Disorders Group.

How can you help a child who has selective mutism?

It is important to be gentle but to offer consistent encouragement, support and reassurance to this child. This is best done in private. You should never attempt to pressure, demand or force the child to speak, trick him into speaking or punish and shame the child for not speaking. Doing these things will only prove to be counterproductive. Parents should also make every attempt to keep their child in regular classes at school instead of placing them in special education classes.

» Selective Mutism in the Classroom

Is selective mutism just shyness?

No. This mutism is in no way a choice that the child has made. Instead, the child has an extreme social phobia and oftentimes has a family history of anxiety disorders.


Hopefully the answers to the aforementioned questions will help to clear up some of your confusion about selective mutism and thus make this disorder for you to manage as a parent.