Speech and Language Therapy 

  Children with Selective Mutism   

 
Selective mutism affects about 1 in 140 children; that's two children in most 
mainstream primary schools.  
 
Are you worried that your child or a child you support may have selective mutism? 
 
Would you like to feel confident that you’re doing everything you can to help? 
 

What is Selective Mutism?  

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that prevents children from talking in certain situations, such as at school or in public, despite being able to talk freely in other situations, such as at home with close family.  
 
Selective mutism is often misunderstood as shyness or refusal to talk, however children with selective mutism want to talk but are physically unable to do so in certain situations, due to a phobia of talking. The expectation to talk triggers a freeze reaction that prevents the words from coming out. The anxiety that children experience in these situations can also affect their movements (e.g. pointing, handling objects, walking, running).  
 
It is not unusual for children with selective mutism to develop maladaptive coping mechanisms as a result of the anxiety. Some children act out in front of family and friends, at parties and at school. 
Mood swings, crying, anger, meltdowns, avoidance, procrastination, inflexibility and difficulty with changes and transitions are common. 
 
There are two profiles of selective mutism: high profile, where a child never talks in certain situations, and low profile, where a child gives minimal responses and doesn’t initiate talking in certain situations. Selective mutism usually starts in early childhood when children first interact with people outside of the family. If left untreated it can continue into adulthood. 
 
If a child has been talking minimally or not at all in certain situations for over a month (two months in a new setting), despite talking freely in other situations, they can be described as having selective mutism. The sooner selective mutism is identified, understood and managed in the right way, the easier it is to overcome. 

Selective Mutism Services  

Assessment, report and initial recommendations. 
 
Training for parents and education staff in understanding selective mutism and how to help. 
 
Planning meetings with parents and education staff (and separately with the child if required). 
 
Support to devise and update the child’s therapy plan and goals. 
 
Advice and guidance by phone call or email between meetings. 
 
Some children will require regular therapy sessions with parents and/or education staff under Natalie's guidance (e.g. 15 minutes on three days a week), or directly with Natalie. 
 
Some parents and education settings jointly fund these services. 

 

“Our 3 year old daughter suffered with selective mutism. We decided to get in touch with a specialist to help us deal with the problem. Pre-school recommended Natalie and we are so glad they did. The issue, which we were really worried could affect our child for years to come, was sorted in a matter of months. Thanks to her extensive knowledge and experience of this disorder, Natalie was able to put in place a great plan of action tailored to our daughter's specific needs and individual personality. The staff at pre-school and ourselves at home followed all of Natalie's expert advice and as a result, my daughter who wasn't saying a single word at pre-school can now happily chat to all her little friends and all the members of staff. It's such a joy and a great relief. Thank you Natalie for all your precious help and constant support throughout this stressful time - we couldn't have wished for a better outcome!” 
Parents of a 3 year 11 month old girl 
Book a 20-minute no obligation telephone consultation with Natalie today. 
 
Call 07454 868455, email natalie@freemeservices.com or use the contact form below. 
 
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