Today we have a guest post from Jessica Thorpe author of Slipping in and out of my Two Worlds. If you haven’t read it, be sure to check it out. Here’s how to notice the signs of a selective mutism.

Diagnosing Selective Mutism by Jessica Thorpe

Parents can often find themselves confused when trying to diagnose selective mutism in their children. And often, they are misdiagnosed by doctors and specialists, so it is important for you to be aware of the speaking habits in these children.

The following are most common speaking habits found in selectively mute children:

  • They may not talk to visitors in their home directly, but would talk to the family in their presence.
  • They will talk in the car but not in the public eye.
  • They might talk to a friend on the way to school but not when they get in to school.
  • Usually they will be more conversational with female relatives.
  • Talk at the supermarket but not in newsagents/corner shops.
  • If nobody else is within the vicinity they may talk to you in the school building.
  • They will commonly speak to a friend at home and at their friend’s home when nobody else is in the room. They won’t however speak to the same friend at school unless alone and out of earshot.

Selective mutism can be relatively easy to diagnose yourself if you are familiar with the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria –
– Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations (at which there is an expectation for speaking, eg, at school), despite speaking in other situations.
– The disturbance interferes with educational or occupational achievement, or with social communication.
– The duration of the disturbance is at least one month (not limited to the first month in school).
– The failure to speak is not due to a lack of knowledge of, or comfort with, the spoken language required in the social setting.
– The disturbance is not better accounted for by a communication disorder (eg, stuttering) and does not occur exclusively during the course of a pervasive developmental disorder, schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorder.