Parents Guide: How to Help a Child with Selective Mutism



Behavioral treatment is the gold standard for treating selective mutism, but medication can be helpful for kids with the disorder who aren’t making sufficient gains with therapy alone. Parents should expect to see results relatively quickly from behavior therapy. If a child isn’t improving after a month, parents should consult with a child and adolescent psychiatrist who can prescribe medication.

Most typically a child and adolescent psychiatrist will use a type of antidepressant medication. SSRIs (or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are antidepressant medications that are very effective for anxiety disorders like SM. Unlike fast-acting anti-anxiety medications, SSRIs take several weeks to work, and help children become less inhibited and more able to participate in therapy over the long-term.

Kids may be required to take them for up to 9-12 months so that they experience the full benefit. If your child is prescribed medication, make sure that his therapist is in close communication with the prescribing doctor so they can coordinate treatment and monitor how he’s responding. The prescribing doctor should preferably be a child and adolescent psychiatrist who is familiar with and experienced in treating children with SM.