Selective Mutism Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Selective Mute Diagnosis, Mutism Diagnosis, Elective Mutism Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Selective Mutism diagnosed?

The diagnosis of selective mutism is not difficult to rule-in after it has been cleared that the child has adequate language skills in some circumstances but not in others. The age of onset can range from 4 – 8 years of age. Mute periods are commonly manifested in less comfortable environments such as school. In rare cases, a child manifests muteness at home but not in school. Children diagnosed with SM may also have symptoms of separation anxiety disorder, school refusal, and delayed language acquisition. Since social anxiety is almost always present in children with selective mutism, behavioral disturbances such as temper tantrums and oppositional behaviors may also occur in the home. 11

DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria for Selective Mutism:

  • Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations (in which there is an expectation for speaking, e.g. at school) despite speaking in other situations.
  • The disturbance interferes with educational or occupational achievement or with social communication.
  • The duration of the disturbance is at least 1 month (not limited to the first month of school).
  • The failure to speak is not due to a lack of knowledge of, or comfort with, the spoken language required in the social situation.

The disturbance is not better accounted for by a communication disorder (e.g. stuttering) and does not occur exclusively during the course of a pervasive developmental disorder, schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. 12

Could You Have Selective Mutism?

Selective Mutism Topics

Related Conditions

Anxiety Disorder NOS – Irrational Fears, Anxiety, Phobia, Depression, Stress
Reactive Attachment Disorder – Inappropriate Ways to Relate Socially, Failure to Form Normal Attachment to Caregivers During Childhood
Separation Anxiety Disorder – Anxiety From Separation to a Care Giver, Strong Emotional Attachment
Social Anxiety Disorder – Social Phobia, Distressed, Depression, Anxious, Chronic Fear, Panic Attack, Intense Fear and Anxiety