Is Your Child Struggling with Selective Mutism?
Is your child engaged and outgoing at home but unable to speak in public or around other people? You know your child has a beautiful vocabulary and is capable of having conversations, but in certain environments, they are unable to respond or engage. You wish you could “fix” the issue and make it go away, but you feel helpless.
Maybe you have noticed your child’s anxiety increasing and their behavior changing when placed in a certain environment. You know the day will be tough when you drop them off at school and you feel the weight of their anxiety. When they get home, the anxiety that has been held inside all day is often released and can lead to tantrums, meltdowns, and other behaviors.
Your child may be struggling with thoughts of going to school the next day, and being asked a question. They fear they will not be able to get the words out because they are frozen with fear. Fear due to having to work in a group and share ideas, worrying about what people will say if they don’t respond when someone is trying to talk to them. They wish they could let the words out, but they can’t.
Watching Your Child Struggle is Heartbreaking, Especially When You Feel Helpless
You want the best for your child, but you feel helpless and unable to support them in the way that they need. If only you could speak for them when they are in uncomfortable situations, but you know that won’t help them in the long run. You want to take away their struggle and tell them that everything will be okay. Overall, you just want to be there for them and to help in all the ways you can.
Selective Mutism is a Real Disorder that Deserves Attention
While Selective Mutism is reported to affect less than 1% of children, the truth is that the data on true prevalence rates may be higher than we think. Selective Mutism is frequently misunderstood and under-researched. This can lead to misdiagnosis, underdiagnosis, and treatment that does not properly address the needs of children with Selective Mutism.
If Your Child is Struggling with Selective Mutism, Both You and Your Child Are Not Alone
Selective Mutism can be difficult to understand, so know that you are not alone in this journey. There are other parents and families experiencing this too. They are also struggling and trying to navigate this situation. It can be difficult to find providers that are knowledgeable about Selective Mutism. This is due to the complexities of the condition and the underlying social anxiety that can be present.
There is evidence to show that immigrant children are at a higher risk of selective mutism than native-born children. However, being bilingual does not cause selective mutism! It is important to be aware of the “silent period” bilingual children go through when learning a new language. However, if the silent period lasts longer than six months it could be selective mutism. When children are being evaluated, cultural differences around communication, values around socialization, outgoingness, etc., should be taken into consideration.
80% of children with Selective Mutism also fulfill the diagnostic criteria for at least one other anxiety disorder, and in 69% of cases, this involves social anxiety disorder (SAD). Research shows a strong relationship between severe social anxiety and Selective Mutism as well as a hereditary or genetic component. Temperamental and environmental factors might contribute as well. If your child is behaviorally inhibited or has reduced opportunities for social interaction, this might play a role as well.
Some of the Common Struggles Associated with Selective Mutism
There are many common struggles associated with Selective Mutism, for both parents and teachers. As a parent, you know your child can speak and engage. But when they are in a certain environment, you might see a change in them and they won’t talk. It can cause you frustration and makes you feel helpless.
It can be difficult to know how to respond to these situations. Do you speak for your child? Do you encourage them to talk or make excuses for them? It can also be challenging to know that progress takes time and work, but wanting it to occur quicker than it can or is. You just want to help them as much as you can.
For teachers, it can be difficult to understand why the student isn’t speaking in the classroom or why they don’t speak or respond when asked a question. Oftentimes, teachers are the first people to bring the issue to the parents. This can be difficult for them to do, especially if they have never experienced a student with Selective Mutism before. Teachers want the best for their students and it can be difficult for them to not be able to help.
There are Resources and Treatment Options
With the guidance of a professional and with the support of parents, teachers, and other caregivers, children with Selective Mutism can learn techniques/strategies to better manage their anxiety and the associated inability to speak in certain situations.
Selective Mutism Treatment Can Help Your Child Flourish
Children with Selective Mutism will not just grow out of it or speak when they are ready. However, working with a caring therapist will help you and your child with this anxiety-based disorder. Through treatment, the children, their parents, and their teachers can learn the skills, strategies, and techniques to help them cope with the anxiety associated with speaking.
The Earlier a Child with Selective Mutism Receives Treatment, the Better the Outcome.
It is important to understand that Selective Mutism is treatable and, with the right resources, your child can become more confident. You should expect to experience a warm, caring, supportive environment where your therapist will strive to meet your child’s needs and help everyone, such as parents and teachers, understand what Selective Mutism is.
With the Right Treatment and Your Support, Your Child Can Learn to Speak in Situations that Cause them Anxiety, and even Thrive.
Your help and support are valuable to your child, and with it, they can make progress. With the right resources, they will learn how to be successful in situations that were once difficult for them. Through sessions, your child and you will learn strategies and techniques to manage their anxiety, to overcome the fear associated with SM. They will also develop confidence so they can find their brave voice. Real-life situations are being simulated in the therapy room so they can practice using their brave voice in an environment where they feel safe and supported.
Our Team Strives to Create a Safe, Secure Environment for Your Child
Our therapists strive to ensure the environment is warm, inviting, and as stress-free as it can possibly be for your child. We want it to be a place where children can begin to relax and be themselves. So they find their voice and start to use their brave voice. We coordinate treatment with other professionals in the child’s life, such as teachers and pediatricians, so that everyone is on the same page and working towards helping the child progress and evolve.
Additionally, we individualize treatment to meet the needs of each child because no one plan is the same as the other. Strategies to decrease and manage anxiety are incorporated into the child’s therapy plan and we include parents every step of the way. If the child has multiple diagnoses, your child’s individualized treatment plan will take that into consideration to help with both or all diagnoses.
With consistency in implementing these strategies for your child, progress can be made. A collaborative approach helps to build a safe and supportive environment. Thus leading to building self-confidence, taking risks with their voice, and overcoming Selective Mutism.
We Work Together as a Team and Have a Therapist Who Specializes in Selective Mutism for Treatment and Consultation.
Elaine Harrison-Yau, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is both a therapist who is passionate about working with clients struggling with selective mutism and is also a parent who understands firsthand the pain of watching your child struggle with selective mutism.
“Getting confirmation of the diagnosis allowed us to move forward with treatment and receive the help we needed at home, in school, out in the real world, and with family & friends. Seeing my child evolve and progress into who they are today has been amazing. Learning about selective mutism and social anxiety allowed our family to work together with the school, family, friends, and community. This continued involvement helps my child work towards reaching their full potential on a daily basis. I want this for any and all families of those struggling with selective mutism” – Elaine Harrison-Yau, LCSW
You May Still Have Questions or Concerns About Selective Mutism Treatment…
My Child is Just Shy and They Will Grow Out of It.
Children with Selective Mutism are more than just shy. Typically children diagnosed with Selective Mutism don’t just grow out of it. The longer a child with Selective Mutism doesn’t speak in certain situations, the more they will miss out on and the harder it will be to treat the problem. Early intervention and consistent treatment are important in helping your child become more confident.
I Don’t Want My Child Dependent on Medication.
We don’t prescribe medication. We also believe that behavioral treatment is the best first step in treating your child with Selective Mutism. Your therapist will work with you to collaboratively choose the best options along the course of treatment. If progress isn’t seen with therapy alone, then it might be time to consider seeing a child psychiatrist. But that is not our first course of treatment.
My Child Doesn’t Want to Come to Therapy and/or Won’t Speak to You.
Over time and with a calm, relaxed atmosphere, children become comfortable in the therapeutic setting. We understand that your child may not want to come to therapy initially. But we work hard so they can see we are there to help them find their brave voice. We meet your child where they are and never force them to speak.
We explain to them what we do and why they are there. This way they can understand the importance of coming to therapy. It can also be a good idea to have a conversation with your child about selective mutism. You can talk about what it is, and why therapy can be helpful. We understand that treatment may seem overwhelming at first. That is why we are here to help guide you every step of the way.
Your Child Can Flourish with Selective Mutism Treatment in Scotch Plains, NJ
If you’re interested in Selective Mutism treatment, our trained and caring therapists at our offices in Scotch Plains are waiting to work with you and your child in therapy. If you’d prefer to meet with a counselor via video session, we can offer online therapy in New Jersey. To begin counseling, follow a few simple steps:
- Connect with Brave Minds Psychological Services today for a free consultation phone call.
- Get your questions answered by one of our compassionate therapists.
- Begin the journey to helping your child find their brave voice!
Other Therapy Services offered at Brave Minds Psychological Services
At Brave Minds Psychological Services, we offer a variety of therapy services to help those struggling with Selective Mutism and their families. Our therapists understand that everyone experiences situations differently and strive to meet the individual needs of each family. We offer services for Child Anxiety Treatment, Equestrian Anxiety, Food Allergies and Anxiety, OCD, Therapy for Child Sexual Abuse, Teen Anxiety Treatment, Social Phobia, Adults Anxiety Counseling, Couples Counseling, Grief Counseling, Parent Counseling, Postpartum Concerns, and Trauma & PTSD. We also offer in person services at our Branchburg location, servicing Somerville, Bridgewater, Raritan, Readington and surrounding areas.
We also offer group therapy for mothers called Braving Motherhood. There are times when life is uncertain and making appointments in person can be difficult. We understand and offer online therapy for Teens, Children, and Adults in New Jersey so that you can receive the support and help you need without leaving your home. Connect with us today for a free consultation phone call and let’s find the right path together.