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Selective mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder. It can cause a child to be unable to speak in almost all social situations despite being physically able to speak.
Selective mutism most commonly develops in children under the age of five, however, in some cases it only becomes noticeable when a child starts school. This is particularly the case in children whose first exposure to large social situations is school.
As with all special educational needs (SEN), early intervention is crucial. We have found that children with selective mutism can deteriorate quickly because the difficulty with speaking causes further anxiety which exacerbates the mutism.
Treatment typically focuses on therapy which helps children to manage their anxiety. The most common forms of support are cognitive behaviour therapy and play therapy. In some cases, SEN additional support may be adequate, whereas in others an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) will be necessary.
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