Why is My Child Not Speaking at School?

See the attached handout for sharing with family members, school staff and community settings.

Selective Mutism (SM) is a childhood anxiety disorder. Children with SM are able to speak but can’t speak in certain social situations due to the fear that it causes them.

Typically children with SM will speak confidently and freely at home but are unable to speak with teaching staff at school and less familiar adults. They may or may not be able to speak to peers.

SM is phobia, these children experience the freeze of the body’s automatic fight, flight, freeze response when faced with a situation where they are expected to speak. They are avoiding speaking due to the anxiety it causes them. This in turn causes them to try and avoid any situations that involve an expectation to speak.

Some, but not all, children with SM experience anxiety with any form of communication. They can struggle to give eye contact, write and/or use gesture when expected to communicate. This may make it appear as if they are rude or ignoring people but this is not the case. Neither are these children shy or introvert. Often they are quite the opposite at home!

SM can often occur in combination with picky eating, sleeping and behavioural difficulties in the home environment with these children constantly fighting a battle between the want to speak and the need to control their anxiety.

For more information and a free 15 minute consult visit https://www.eatspeechtherapy.co.uk/contact-us/

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