Selective Mutism Awareness Month
Selective Mutism Awareness Month is observed in October and sponsored by the Selective Mutism Association. The objective of Selective Mutism Awareness Month is to increase public awareness of selective mutism, to promote greater understanding of this disorder through education and support of research, and to provide support to professionals, affected individuals, and their families.
Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. These children are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure, and relaxed.
Selective Mutism Awareness Month educates the public that more than 90% of children with Selective Mutism also have social phobia or social anxiety. This disorder is quite debilitating and painful to the child. Children and adolescents with Selective Mutism have an actual fear of speaking and of social interactions where there is an expectation to speak and communicate. Many children with Selective Mutism have great difficulty responding or initiating communication in a nonverbal manner; therefore, social engagement may be compromised in many children when confronted by others or in an overwhelming setting where they sense a feeling of expectation.
Not all children manifest their anxiety in the same way. Some may be completely mute and unable to speak or communicate to anyone in a social setting, others may be able to speak to a select few or perhaps whisper. Some children may stand motionless with fear as they are confronted with specific social settings. They may freeze, be expressionless, unemotional and may be socially isolated. Less severely affected children may look relaxed and carefree, and are able to socialize with one or a few children but are unable to speak and effectively communicate to teachers or most/all peers.
When compared to the typically shy and timid child, most children with Selective Mutism are at the extreme end of the spectrum for timidity and shyness.
Personalized Cause supports Selective Mutism Awareness Month.