In a familiar environment, it plays with its siblings and parents, laughing and raging. However, if a person suddenly comes along, the behavior changes abruptly: Suddenly the child does not say a word more about the lips, it is silent, looks away, "latches" completely. Do you know that from your offspring? Your child may be affected by mutism, a communication disorder estimated by experts to be between 6, 000 and 10, 000 people in Germany. Especially common is childhood mutism.
Frequency of mutism
According to a 2001 study, the number of cases of selective mutism is 7 out of 1, 000. The phenomenon is about twice as common as autism, with which mutism is often confused.
The term derives from the Latin "mutus" for "dumb" and describes the persistent, fearful silence of a person, which can be amplified over time and finally hardly controlled at will. A defect of the speech organs or hearing as the cause is not present.
Mutism in children
So, when children are completely silent in certain situations or in relation to some people, that does not always have to do with defiance, self-indulgence, or momentary shyness, but may be signs of a mutism syndrome.
Parents often misinterpret children with mutism as shy or listless: in the familiar environment of family, siblings and close friends, those affected speak normally and resolved, but as soon as they suspect someone else is listening or seeing someone else that the mouth is moved, the mutist expires in silence.
Causes of Mutism
One differentiates the "total mutism" - those affected do not speak at all - and the much more common "selective mutism" (also elective mutism), if affected persons are silent only to certain people or in certain situations.
Diagnosis is not easy, and often mutism is not recognized, misunderstood or neglected as the syndrome to be treated. In this case - if the communication disorder is detected early - the healing prospects are good.
Selective mutism is not a disease in the true sense, but one of the possible symptoms of "social anxiety". Some of the major causes of selective mutism are:
- Inborn (genetically conditioned) shyness or inhibition of the child
- domestic problems
- Language developmental disorders or language abnormalities of the child (it is silent because it is ashamed of its (imperfect) voice / language)
- Anxiety disorders, especially "social phobia" (want to hide, do not want to be in focus, fear of unknown people or situations)