SM: What to Look For

If your child struggles with selective mutism, she may be freely verbal and even gregarious at home—“chatterbox” is a description professionals often hear—but completely or mostly nonverbal at school. Some children seem paralyzed with fear when they are unable to speak, and have difficulty communicating even non-verbally. Others will use gestures, facial expressions, and nodding to get by when they cannot speak. Even in the home, some will fall silent when someone other than a family member is present. Parents often notice signs of SM when a child is 3 or 4 years old, but she may not be diagnosed until she gets to school, and efforts to get her to speak up have failed.