The very existence of selective mutism demonstrates the significance of expectation in the communication process.  Selective mutism occurs when the communication expectations of a situation overwhelm a child’s perceived capabilities.  The resulting anxiety results in selective mustism – an inability to talk in one setting with an ability to talk in others.  An often preferred method of treatment is for a team consisting of a psychotherapist, speech-language pathologist, parent, and teacher to gradually overcome situational anxiety with therapuetic means.  Some selective mutism facts include…

  • While estimates of a decade ago and earlier pegged selective mutism as relatively rare, recent studies have suggested that the true prevalence has been underestimated.  Some of these studies have suggested that selective mutism may be as common as other widely known childhood disorders, such as autism and tourette’s disorder.  This link at has some great additional info.
  • While childhood trauma has long been blamed, researchers have identified a wide variety of possible etiologies, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social phobia.  It is widely believed that many children with selective mutism have concomitant language disorders, although the mutism makes these disorders extremely difficult to diagnose.
  • According to Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum, the executive director of, “the majority of SM children do not overcome SM.”  In an interview here at, many of these kids grow into adolescents and adults with extreme social anxiety problems.  In this interview Shipon-Blum elaborates on the problems too often caused by taking a wait and see approach.
  • There are some good blogs by individuals affected by selective mutism, sharing their memories of SM in their lives. Check out Selective Mutism – My Memories for a really good, frequently updated blog by a man that has had selective mutism.  For a blog done by parents, see The blog on Selective Mutism.