Selective Mutism or Shyness?
Do you have a psychological disorder? Or are you just shy?
The first symptoms of selective mutism occur at ages 1-3. Children may experience shyness, hiding so they won't have to speak, or a fear of people. The cause is unknown but some studies suggest that it's genetic. Traumatic events or abuse can cause someone to become temporarily mute but this isn't considered selective mutism. Treatment methods include medications including antidepressants and desensitizing the person and providing positive reinforcement to motivate them to speak. Using pressure, bribing, or punishment can be harmful and won't help the person.On the bright side, many people with selective mutism tend to have:
- Above average intelligence
- Creativity and a love for art or music
- Empathy for other's thoughts and feelings
- A strong sense of right and wrong
Some negative sides of the disorder besides lack of speech include:
- Social anxiety, fear of social embarrassment
- Difficulty maintaining eye contact
- Difficulty expressing feelings, even to family
- Tendency to worry more
- Sensitivity to crowds
I was diagnosed in preschool and have had it since then. I surprisingly didn't have trouble making friends and they didn't seemed to mind that I only responded to them through nods and/or writing even though some really wanted to hear me speak. I started taking Zoloft in the 2nd grade and it worked but for some reason I stopped taking it and that was the last time my peers heard me talk. I started taking it again and seeing a psychologist over a year ago. I have made progress but I'm still not totally cured.