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Selective Mutism - Essay Example

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Those that have worked with selectively mute children have encountered wide variations in their social actions. Some children enjoy contact with others and will play easily, but remain silent. Some have a close friend who often speaks for them by interpreting gestures…
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Selective Mutism
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Download file to see previous pages As you can imagine, the condition can have dramatically negative effects on social functioning.
Selective mutism refers to selective silence in a child who speaks freely in very familiar situations. Children who demonstrate this condition appear comfortable and talkative with close family members. However, whenever people other than the closest family members are present, the child is quiet and shy. Some children avoid eye contact and do not communicate in any form with others. They refrain from the use of gestures or changes in facial expression.
Selective mutism occurs in a small number of children, probably less than 1% of children in the elementary school settings. It is not known how often children demonstrate the problem during the pre-school years. Prevalence may be higher in the pre-school years because many more children are attending preschool programs than in the past. Children who have developmental language or articulation problems and children whose first language is not English are more likely to be selectively mute. In both circumstances, children may be quiet because of concerns about accents and limited fluency.
Research shows that most children with selective mutism were anxious in social situations from an early age. Contrary to many popular ideas, most selectively mute children have not experienced trauma. ...
Children who have developmental language or articulation problems and children whose first language is not English are more likely to be selectively mute. In both circumstances, children may be quiet because of concerns about accents and limited fluency.
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How does selective mutism develop
Research shows that most children with selective mutism were anxious in social situations from an early age. Contrary to many popular ideas, most selectively mute children have not experienced trauma. Rather their history often includes a toddler period of appropriate language development at home, but clingy, dependent behavior in the presence of unfamiliar or infrequently encountered people. Some children have shown mild forms of separation anxiety, although overt refusal to attend school is not usual. For children for whom English is a second language, case studies usually indicate that the children were not comfortable speaking with people in their first language either.
At this time, researchers believe that most selective mutism is a form of social phobia: that is, an anxiety disorder that reflects inhibited social actionts for fear of embarrassment or concerns that others will judge them negatively. Some children have reported that their throats clog up when looking at others as if their vocal chords will not permit them to speak. It is probable that children with the condition have inhibited dispositions as part of their personality characteristics. Extensive studies by Dr. Jerome Kagan and his colleagues have found that about 5% of children react to novel situations with high levels of uncomfortable arousal and a tendency to withdraw. This pattern is ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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