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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Selective Mutism
      Category : Health Centers > Mental Health (Mental Disorders)

Selective Mutism

Alternate Names : Elective Mutism

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Selective mutism is a condition in which a person who is usually fluent in speech won't speak in specific situations. Selective mutism primarily affects children.

What is going on in the body?

The majority of people who exhibit selective mutism appear to have some type of anxiety disorder. A person who has this condition usually has a full understanding of language in most situations. In other cases, though, they appear as if they have a total lack of language where one would expect oral speech, such as in school. This condition may extend over a period of time, at least 1 to 2 months and longer. This occurs in the absence of any specific medical problem that may prevent speech.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The cause of selective mutism is not clear. Possible causes include:

  • immigrant family background
  • significant early childhood trauma
  • injury that affects the mouth
  • anxiety
  • possible history of speech disorders early in childhood or delayed onset of speech


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    Selective Mutism: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Ann Reyes, Ph.D.
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/12/01

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