Treatment for Selective Mutism in Midland Park, NJ
Understanding Selective Mutism
Selective mutism is a disorder in which someone who is able to speak and communicate fails to do so. The disorder is closely associated with – and, possibly, the product of – social anxiety or shyness. In fact, almost all children diagnosed with selective mutism also suffer from some form of anxiety. This failure to communicate does not necessarily occur 24/7. In many cases, it occurs in situations or environments of social stress. Children may fail to communicate with friends and teachers at school but have no trouble speaking freely at home.
A selective absence of speech, however, is not the sole characteristic of selective mutism. Other symptoms of selective mutism include:
- Minimal facial expressions
- Noise sensitivity
- Stiff movement
- Difficulty maintaining eye contact
- Tendency to favor a routine
Treating Selective Mutism
There are multiple approaches to treating selective mutism. A number of treatments focus on slowly easing the patient into social situations. This can be done by communicating first online using instant messaging and gradually progressing towards face-to-face conversations.
Another technique, known as “fading in” begins with the patient communicating solely with someone they are comfortable with. One by one, more familiar faces enter the conversation. The pace is judged by the receptiveness of the patient towards the newcomer.
One of the most popular (and fascinating) techniques is called “self-modeling.” This treatment involves a person suffering from selective mutism sitting in a room with a person they are comfortable with. The person with selective mutism is asked a number of questions. The interaction is recorded. Then a person the patient fails to communicate with (parents, teachers, etc) is taped asking the same questions. The tapes are stitched together such that it appears the person with selective mutism is answering someone they would otherwise fail to communicate with. They are then shown this tape a number of times as they attempt to communicate with the person from the tape in real life. Successful attempts are rewarded as the patient grows closer to gaining full communicative ability.
Selective mutism is not a disorder which heals naturally over time. Treating selective mutism takes effective therapy and experienced medical support. Failure to treat the disorder may lead to crippling anxiety and depression later in life. Talk to the experts about treatment for selective mutism today. Call (201) 806-6099 or contact Dr. M.T. Shahab online.
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