When your child won’t talk… Anxiety based Selective Mutism
Florida International University (FIU) offers intensive, weeklong immersion programs for students who struggle with a form of anxiety called Selective Mutism. Selective Mutism is most frequently seen in children younger than five years old. Many times these children tend to be more anxious or inhibited. Anxiety or worry about how others may assess them is also frequently seen. Other characteristics commonly associated with Selective Mutism include, and ability to speak at home with family, anxiety around those they do not know,shyness, and not speaking in certain social situations.
Selective Mutism can interfere with academic functioning and leave children feeling less secure about himself and social situations. Understandably, this anxiety can escalate and interfere with many versions of socialization. Disruption in children’s feelings about themselves internally and related to others can expose children to greater risk for depression and anxiety. Florida International University’s program Center for Children and Families offers repeated exposure to various situations which may cause anxiety and ample time to process them over a six-hour day. The hopeless to “translate gains to real school settings” according to Jami Furr the director of the Selective Mutism at FIU.
It is important to recognize that some children may be shy and are frequently reserved even when at home. These children tend to warm up after a few minutes; however, children with Selective Mutism do not warm up.
Avoiding anxious situations is known to make symptoms worse and in the case of selective mutism delayed treatment can make things worse.