SELECTIVE MUTISM SITUATIONAL MUTISM
WHAT IS SITUATIONAL MUTISM?
Situational mutism otherwise known as selective mutism.
Situational mutism is when a person cannot speak in certain settings but can speak fine in others,
e.g., they may speak at home but not at school
WHY WE PREFER THE TERM ‘SITUATIONAL MUTISM’ OVER ‘SELECTIVE MUTISM’
‘Selective’ implies they are choosing not to speak.
We say ‘situational’ because it is not a choice but is caused by anxiety about talking in a certain situation, e.g., school environment.
IS SELECTIVE/SITUATIONAL MUTISM DIFFERENT THAN JUST BEING SHY?
The two can easily be misinterpreted/incorrectly identified. Situational mutism is not simply a personality trait. It is important to make the distinction to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH SITUATIONAL MUTISM?
- Don’t try to force/encourage them to speak in a situation they are unable to.
- Don’t ask why they are unable to speak, this will only increase their anxiety.
- Use comments and statements rather than questions. E.g., ‘I hope you had a lovely day’ instead of ‘how was your day?’
- Make them feel included by encouraging non-verbal participation in all activities (non-verbal or verbal participation all contribute to communication).
- FACT: 93% of communication is conveyed non-verbally!
- Provide responsibilities or tasks they can feel proud of doing e.g., activities/’jobs’ to increase self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Do not act surprised or make a ‘big deal’ of someone with SM speaking, this may embarrass them/cause a set-back.
- Seek support from allied health professional(s).
For further information, visit:
https://www.speechandlanguageacademy.co.uk/advice– PDF of Selective (Situational) Mutism Support Strategies
Author: Shradha Shah