What is Selective Mutism?
Selective Mutism (SM) is a severe social anxiety disorder that renders a person virtually mute in certain social settings. More than shyness, the inability to understand the primary language spoken, or a speech impediment, SM is a condition that paralyzes normally capable children with fear and anxiety, causing them to feel like they are constantly being watched and judged.
Despite being rarely acknowledged and often misdiagnosed, Selective Mutism is far from a rare phenomenon, and is estimated to affect 7 out of every 1,000 children. Furthermore, unless treated in childhood, the mutism will worsen and remain into adulthood, possibly leading to depression, social isolation/withdrawal, poor self-esteem, self-medication with drugs/alcohol and even suicidal thoughts and suicide.
Therefore, it is essential to encourage open dialogues and to foster discussions among the public, offering sufferers and their families alike support and hope for a brighter future.