Coexisting Disorders in Children With Selective Mutism: How to Differentiate Symptoms and Navigate Behaviors
Children with a selective mutism (SM) diagnosis are at increased risk of experiencing additional cognitive, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. Laura Kirmayer, PhD, MSW, associate psychologist and director of the Brave Buddies program at the Child Mind Institute, and Michelle Kaplan, LMSW, clinical social worker at CMI, will discuss effective methods to evaluate SM and differentiate symptoms that may indicate a coexisting disorder such as another anxiety disorder, ADHD, or a disruptive behavior disorder. They will review the current literature on coexisting disorders in children with selective mutism as well as patterns observed within the Child Mind Institute's SM service. The challenges and complexities of SM's symptom presentation will be discussed, as well as unfortunate myths and misunderstandings of SM that exist in the field. The workshop will specifically discuss how to differentiate between disruptive behaviors that are oppositional and those that are anxious, and how to respond effectively to each.