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How Can Child Therapy Help With Selective Mutism

Do you notice your child speaking freely at home but shutting down when they are in public spaces? Or, when strangers are around, do you notice your child pointing and nodding instead of answering questions? If these symptoms have persisted over time and caused significant impairment in the child’s life, then your child may have selective mutism.

What is Selective Mutism?

When children are unable to speak around certain people or in unfamiliar settings, they have an anxiety disorder known as selective mutism (SM). It is quite common for children with SM to be very chatty at home when they are around family, but silent at school. As such, parents typically start noticing signs of SM when a child is older and of school age – approximately three or four years old.

Because children with selective mutism are typically mild-mannered and polite in classroom settings, their silence can often be misinterpreted as shyness. A child with selective mutism might go a whole year or more in a classroom without once speaking to his/her teachers and peers. As such, it can pose a barrier to their learning.

Selective mutism can cause significant impairment in a child’s life. For instance, it can interfere with your child’s performance in school, be it academically or socially. It can also prevent your child from asking for help if they need it, such as being anxious about telling the teacher that they need to use the bathroom. It can also prevent the child from engaging in many fun activities requiring verbal communication.

Common Misconceptions of Selective Mutism

selective mutism is usually very rare, as such, not many doctors or specialists can recognise it immediately. People may also mistakenly think that a child is not talking because he or she is just being wilful and rebellious.

In reality, children suffering from selective mutism are extremely anxious and cannot talk even if they really want to. To put it simply, a child with selective mutism is unable to speak, and not refusing to speak. selective mutism is not a case where your child is just being shy and will “grow out of it” if you leave them alone. On the contrary, the longer a child with selective mutism does not speak, the harder it will be to treat the problem.

All these aside, the good news is that with the right help, children with selective mutism can get better.

Treatment Options for Children with Selective Mutism

Selective mutism can be treated as long as the right care is administered. For instance, children with selective mutism respond best to behavioural therapy that is focused on helping them learn to speak in new settings and during activities with new people.

As they progress in their child therapy sessions, parents can also engage in the help of speech therapists. Generally, speech therapists have the appropriate level of training and skills to help children with communication, pronunciation and articulation difficulties associated with selective mutism.

Find the Right Treatment Team at MindChamps Allied Care

Children with selective mutism should not be pushed or forced to speak. As such, the treatment process should be one that is gradual, at the pace that the child is comfortable with. Most child therapy treatments for selective mutism often follow specialised behavioural therapy techniques to prompt speech. This careful progression helps children gain more confidence whilst preparing them for experiences that get progressively more challenging.

Coupled with MindChamps Allied Care’s speech therapy sessions, our private speech therapist will better understand your child’s condition to come up with a customised therapy plan. Adopting a wide range of effective approaches and strategies, our speech therapy sessions aim to promote speech and language development in your child – ultimately, making them more confident in speaking with strangers and in unfamiliar settings.

If you are concerned about your child suffering from selective mutism, you should get a comprehensive evaluation to obtain a diagnosis. The evaluation usually examines the circumstances in which your child is verbal and non-verbal, as well as whether they have any other accompanying disorders like anxiety problems.

At MindChamps Allied Care, we also offer child psychology services such as social skills sessions and even full diagnostic and psychological assessments in children between the ages of 2 to 16. Book an initial assessment with us at any of our child therapy centres in Singapore today and let our highly experienced child psychologists advise you on the best course of action for your child’s needs. Our team will also provide you with the necessary caregiver training so that you can best guide your child at home and give them the support they need to overcome these obstacles.

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