Mutism: Therapy and consequences

All linguistic, cognitive, social and emotional development is affected by mutistic behavior. This has consequences for personality development, ego identity and self-esteem. The person concerned has difficulties in school, education or at work and is sometimes shunned by other people.

Therapy in case of mutism

Mutism requires a multifactorial therapy that takes several aspects into account. There are hardly any experts in this field. The therapy is mostly speech, psycho and family therapy and / or psychiatric. For mutant adolescents and adults, additional pharmacological treatment with antidepressants may be indicated.

Experts say that the earlier you intervene, the greater the chances of success. Otherwise, the disorder can become more manifest, last for years and drag into adulthood. Parents who notice that their child has communication problems should not shy away from the path to the hands of an experienced pediatrician.

Signs of mutism in children

For the following signs of the child, parents should be vigilant:

  • The child does not speak in certain situations, but speaks at home and with familiar people.
  • At home, the child is very expressive, communicative and speaks sometimes extremely much (pent-up demand).
  • The child has difficulty initiating interactions on its own (eg greeting, farewell, thanks, questions).
  • In school, the pronounced silence is often compensated with good written performance.
  • The child seems to observe and perceive the surrounding world more carefully than peers, but it often has difficulty expressing one's own feelings.

What can parents do?

If the silence lasts longer than four weeks, a speech therapy examination of the child should be arranged. For this purpose, a drug ordinance on speech therapy is necessary, which is issued by a pediatrician or ENT specialist. Selective mutism falls under the language development delays; this must be stated on the Regulation.

The therapy is paid by the health insurance funds and carried out by speech therapists (speech therapists, speech impaired teachers or respiratory, speech and voice teachers). Close cooperation between the parents, educators / teachers and possibly psychotherapists is recommended.

What should parents of Mutisten note?

  • Do not take the silence personally!
  • Recognizing non-speaking as active action that - at some point - has fulfilled its purpose for the child / adolescent.
  • Silence can not be deliberately avoided by those affected because it has been developed and maintained over the years.
  • Do not constantly ask for speech or even push. Every request to speak increases the pressure on the child and the fear of the next speaking event.
  • Do not focus on the child, treat it as normal.
  • Do not limit the child.
  • The ultimate decision, if and when the silence is given, hits the affected person himself! The role of the parents and the environment is to accompany, to promote the competences, to practice patience and to learn to understand.
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