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Selective Mutism Disorder Is More Of A Problem Than You Think

Copyright (c) 2007-2018

One of the worst and most severe manifestations of childhood social anxiety disorders is labeled as Selective Mutism disorder. Originally, fifteen years ago the disorder was called Elective Mutism because doctors figured that all children who didn't talk were either shy or in another category. Elective mutes were seen as belligerent, stubborn, and obnoxious kids who were rebelling by not talking against some effort in order to get attention. However, this was all changed roughly around 1994 when doctors started testing the rapidly increasing cases of children going completely mute at schools across the country and remaining completely normal within the home setting.

The specific symptoms of selective mutes are varied but usually carry along the same traits. The disorder usually sets in at a very young age, most likely as soon as a child starts preschool. They do not speak in selected areas such as school or social events or with relatives, they speak normally in other environments that they feel comfortable in (very few don't speak in any situation), inability to speak interferes with life, these traits have persisted for more than one month, and lastly the disorder is not caused by communication or mental disorders.

Common visible symptoms of character flaws can be registered as well in a Selective Mute, whether they are completely cured and talking or still non-verbal. Characteristics from birth should be noted: anxiety, physical and emotional attachment to parents or significant others, moodiness, clinging, inflexibility, problems with sleep patterns, crying and depression, and of course shyness. Communication problems are also more apparent in these people with freezing, rigidness, blank facial expressions, lack of smiling and responses, lack of expression in voice and tone.

Interesting notes have been made on the achievements of Selective Mutes and their interests in life. Many if not most people who were affected prior in life with the disorder became involved in more creative and artistic occupations or activities. Studies have been conducted with children in schools and most Selective Mutes usually are heavily involved in something related to art, writing, and or music. Reasons behind this are that artistic and creative activities become an actual outlet and form of non-verbal communication for Selective Mutes when they are desperate for a release and there are no other options left.

The only way for people to get Selective Mutism disorder is through a genetic inheritance of social anxiety traits. These social anxiety traits sometimes change into a new form believed to be caused possibly by a decreased threshold in the amygdala, which when danger is registered in the brain it helps the body react to that. In this case, the amygdala is overreacting and triggers danger when there is none. Selective Mutes are believed to be born with a natural inhibition for talking. Professionals say that with these people, whether there is danger or not, it triggers that in their mind and they put up a self-defense and natural urge for self-preservation that completely shuts their communication barriers down.

There are few cures for the disorder and before the mid to late nineties, most doctors had never even heard of Selective or Elective Mutism disorder or simply refused to give medications or professional help for it. However, children, if left untreated past the age of 7 are more likely to have serious problems and complications for the rest of their lives. The most effective cure for the disorder that's been discovered so far has been Prozac, fluoxetine, strong levels of antidepressants, and serious cognitive behavior therapy.

It used to be believed that Selective Mutism is incredibly rare and virtually unheard of in most cases. It still is very uncommonly known and has had hardly any proper scientific research conducted in order to eliminate the problem for people. However, recent studies in 2002 claimed that instead of 1 out of 1,000 children being affected with the disorder in the world; the actual numbers are more likely to be around 7 out of 1,000 children that are affected. This makes Selective Mutism twice as common as Autism and a growing unsolved problem for the future.


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