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Selective mutism: what it is and what are the symptoms and treatments


Selective mutism is a problem that particularly affects children. Let’s find out what are the main causes and the ways to intervene.

When we talk about selective mutism we mean the inability to speak in certain social contexts.
It is important to understand that this is not an organic or developmental problem and that sufferers have no language comprehension problems. It is in fact a problem mainly linked to particular emotional states such as, for example, anxiety.

Selective mutism: the main causes

Children’s selective mutism is recognized by their inability to speak when they are away from home or in public places where they feel uncomfortable.


The causes are therefore to be traced back to states of anxiety and discomfort due to the social contexts frequented by the children. In this regard, there are precise diagnostic criteria that help identify the problem.
In selective mutism, the symptoms are in fact mainly linked to an inability to speak when in foreign environments or with people who do not know each other. It is also a condition that lasts at least over a month .

How to cure selective mutism

Silence, in psychology, is seen as a problem linked to states of anxiety.
Although it can appear in people with autism or with mental problems, it is therefore a condition that can affect anyone and that can also occur following a trauma or a period of severe stress.

The practice to treat it effectively is therefore to act as soon as possible through a cognitive-behavioral treatment. The child who suffers from it will therefore have to be helped with stimuli that push him to interact. Examples are a greater attention on the part of the teacher and a type of communicative work that allows him to express himself in ways other than those that require speech. It is also very useful to be close to more sensitive companions and able to put him at ease.

It is therefore very important to act on anxiety . This can be done by creating relaxing contexts also outside and by doing so that the child is able to feel more and more at ease and, for this reason, encouraged to communicate also through the use of the word.

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