The term selective (or elective) mutism describes the behaviour of children who are able to speak, but remain silent with certain people or in certain settings; they are often misunderstood and may be wrongly punished for their inability to speak and communicate.
Many children with selective mutism are still being misdiagnosed with autism, oppositional defiant disorder, or learning disabilities.
Children with selective mutism should not be forced to speak, as this leads to worsening of anxiety and mutism. Selectively mute children are not manipulative, nor are they developmentally delayed; they are simply too anxious to speak. It is most commonly noticed when a child joins a school.
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