Selective Mutism: What to Know

Selective Mutism

Selective mutism, while it can be baffling to understand and challenging to treat, often occurs alongside a host of other symptoms that may be causing significant distress.

Reviewing data on 38 children diagnosed with ASD in 2003-2013 whose symptoms had resolved when they were re-evaluated about four years later, Dr. Lisa Shulman found that in 24 percent of the cases, children had internalizing problems such anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or selective mutism (Shulman, 2014).

“When an early ASD diagnosis resolves, there are often other learning and emotional/behavioral diagnoses that remain. Understanding the full range of possible positive outcomes in this scenario is important information for parents, clinicians and the educational system,” explains Shulman (2014).

And when communication disorders appear outside of an ASD diagnosis (or resolution of one), they may precede a different diagnosis. According to Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher Vaibhav Diwadkar, PhD, when brain networks supporting basic psychological functions such as attention and communication do not function appropriately, it can be sign that young individuals are at genetic risk for illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (Diwadkar, 2014).

In the largest ever study of schizophrenia, scientists analyzed the data of 1,963 people with schizophrenia and 2,359 healthy controls from Australia, Asia, Europe, South Africa and North America, integrating data from 29 different international studies by the ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta Analysis) network, a global consortium headed by Paul Thompson at the Keck School of Medicine concluded that the disorder is a systemic disruption to the brain’s entire communication system (Kelly et al., 2017).

How we communicate is vastly important. And when our ability to communicate is disrupted, it can signify larger neurological and psychiatric problems. For clinicians, knowing how to recognize and treat communication problems like selective mutism is an essential skill in ensuring the healthy social, emotional, and academic development of children.

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Selective Mutism: Identification and TreatmentSelective Mutism: Identification and Treatment is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that details the identification and treatment of children who are “selectively mute.” It is expected that young children, upon beginning school, will be able to use expressive language to communicate with their teacher and their peers. Negative educational and social outcomes can occur when children lack this essential skill. Children who persistently withhold speech or who fail to speak in social situations in which it is expected (usually at school), despite speaking normally in other situations (usually at home), have been identified as being “selectively mute.” Selective Mutism is diagnosed when the refusal/failure to speak interferes with educational or social achievement. This course will discuss the criteria, causes, comorbidities, and treatments for this rare disorder, detailing behavioral, psychosocial, and cognitive behavioral interventions. Essential points will be illustrated by the inclusion of a real-life case study. Course #21-22 | 2018 | 39 pages | 15 posttest questions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

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