By Susha Cheriyedath, MSc
Selective mutism has garnered a lot of attention as a childhood disorder that can have significant repercussions on the children and their families. Children with selective mutism need the help of a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals that includes a pediatrician, child psychologist or psychiatrist, and a speech – language therapist. The school and family of the affected child should work closely with the health care team for the treatment to be effective.
Support is widely available for parents to help them access speech therapy and psychological help for their children. Parents need to arm themselves with appropriate literature related to selective mutism. Adults with selective mutism need to see therapists and undergo talking therapy or counseling with the help of their GP. Adults can also go to online support groups and forums and interact with other adults who suffer from selective mutism.
Children with selective mutism can contact the childline via phone or email for immediate support. The childline helps children dealing with unhappiness, depression, or bullying-related issues. Older children / teens may approach mutual support groups on social media, such as facebook. However, children should be very careful online and not share personal details or never agree to meeting people encountered in the virtual world.
Organizations Providing Support for Selective Mutism
The Selective Mutism Group provides information about the disorder through their website http://www.selectivemutism.org and is part of the childhood anxiety network. The main aim of the group is to guide parents and teachers with the help of books on the condition and aiding children affected by selective mutism.
iSpeak is a voluntary organization run by Dr. Carl Sutton who was affected by selective mutism for many years during his childhood. iSpeak aims to provide selective mutism patients a platform to express themselves. It also strives to educate the public, media, health care professionals, and academia through real life experiences. It has published a book named ‘Selective Mutism In Our Own Words’, which has first-person accounts of the effects of the disorder by nearly 30 teens and adults with selective mutism and many parents as well. iSpeak aims at busting myths about selective mutism and breaking the stereotypes attached to the disorder. It also offers videos and other resources apart from conducting workshops and awareness events for individuals and families affected by the disorder.
Selective Mutism Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in the year 1991. It aims at broadening public understanding and awareness of selective mutism. Its mission is to promote advocacy, research, and acceptance of selective mutism as a debilitating condition.
SMIRA is a UK-based charity that was founded to offer support to families of children with selective mutism. It aims at giving information to health and academic professionals involved in helping out individuals affected by the disorder. SMIRA helps fight isolation among selective mutism sufferers and encourages sharing of ideas among people experiencing similar selective mutism-related issues at home or school. The charity has an active facebook group having members from about 50 countries across the globe. It also hosts annual conferences and training sessions related to the disorder for parents and professionals.
The Selective Mutism Information and Research Association provides support and advice about selective mutism, including training for parents and health care professionals.
The Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice helps individuals or families affected by selective mutism find SLPs.
Some other organizations that provide support for selective mutism are K12 Academics, NYU Child Study Center, and Selective Mutism and Childhood Anxiety Disorders Group.
Reviewed by Jonas Wilson, Ing. Med.
Last Updated: Aug 19, 2016