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Is It Selective Mutism or Is My Child Just Shy?
Date:8/28/2013

Parsippany, NJ (PRWEB) August 28, 2013

As another school year begins, it can be expected that some number of young children will approach the first day in the classroom with a fair amount of trepidation. For some, their shyness and anxiety will initially manifest itself in a failure to speak. But for a few – perhaps as many as 7 out of every 1,000 children – their silence will continue throughout the school year. These children may have a disorder known as selective mutism. “Children with selective mutism are fully capable of speaking and in fact generally communicate normally at home and in situations where they are relaxed and comfortable,” says Dr. Carly Orenstein, clinical psychologist with Morris Psychological Group. “These children are not willfully refusing to speak. They are actually unable to speak or communicate effectively in certain social settings, most notably school.”

Almost all children with selective mutism also have social anxiety disorders. While an inability to speak might not show up until a child is exposed to social situations – most are diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 8 – in hindsight, many of these children showed signs of severe anxiety, timidity and fearfulness as infants and toddlers but were simply thought to be shy. They are often talkative and even boisterous at home but fearful and anxious in settings where there is the expectation of social interaction and communication. Some freeze in these situations and are expressionless, withdrawn and completely mute with both peers and adults while others seem relaxed and are able to communicate with a few select children, sometimes in a whisper.

Causes
It is thought that most children with selective mutism have in
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