Mute But Now I Speak


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In History class the teacher would just skip past me when we had to read things out. Ben, Lily, I could have gone to university, I always did well at school. But it was different there, teachers knew about my problem. Overall, the interviews suggest that people with selective mutism very much want to speak, but something inside is keeping them from doing so.

Interestingly, Aaron S.

Combination of "Deaf and Mute" May Have Neural Underpinnings - Scientific American Blog Network

Zebra finch vocalizations, like human vocalizations, become less accurate soon after the onset of deafness. The two structures evolved separately in birds and humans, but each controls the motor movements required for vocalization. If a bird's HVC is damaged, it cannot sing. Analogously, if a person's Broca area is damaged, he cannot speak. To see what happens in the HVC after a finch loses its hearing, Mooney and his team actually built tiny windows into the birds' brains, and covered the one-millimeter-wide holes with glass.

Next, they used viruses to inject green fluorescent proteins into the neurons there. Shining a laser light through the window allowed the researchers to observe where the neurons were located and what they looked like during experiments. Play Sound.

There’s an Anxiety Disorder That Renders People Unable to Speak

But then the researchers deafened each bird by removing its cochleae. Mooney was surprised to find that the neurons controlling the bird's singing began to degrade within 24 hours after deafening, even though birds might not stop singing altogether for days or weeks.

Silent Twins: Without My Shadow

As the connections among neurons are lost, their signals weaken. A "use it or lose it" mechanism could be involved, Mooney thinks. So it falls apart. The majority of children with Selective Mutism have a genetic predisposition to anxiety. In other words, they have inherited a tendency to be anxious from one or more family members. Very often, these children show signs of severe anxiety, such as separation anxiety, frequent tantrums and crying, moodiness, inflexibility, sleep problems, and extreme shyness from infancy on.

Children with Selective Mutism often have severely inhibited temperaments. Studies show that individuals with inhibited temperaments are more prone to anxiety than those without shy temperaments. Most, if not all, of the distinctive behavioral characteristics that children with Selective Mutism portray can be explained by the studied hypothesis that children with inhibited temperaments have a decreased threshold of excitability in the almond-shaped area of the brain called the amygdala.


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When confronted with a fearful scenario, the amygdala receives signals of potential danger from the sympathetic nervous system and begins to set off a series of reactions that will help individuals protect themselves. In the case of children with Selective Mutism, the fearful scenarios are social settings such as birthday parties, school, family gatherings, routine errands, etc.

They may be sensitive to sounds, lights, touch, taste and smells. Some children have difficulty modulating sensory input which may affect their emotional responses. DSI may cause a child to misinterpret environmental and social cues. This can lead to inflexibility, frustration and anxiety. Others may have subtle learning disabilities including auditory processing disorder.

In most of these cases, the children have inhibited temperaments prone to shyness and anxiety. These children are usually temperamentally inhibited by nature, but the additional stress of speaking another language and being insecure with their skills is enough to cause an increased anxiety level and mutism. A small percentage of children with Selective Mutism do not seem to be the least bit shy.

What our authors say…

Many of these children perform and do whatever they can to get others attention and are described as professional mimes! Reasons for mutism in these children are not proven, but preliminary research from the SMart Center indicates that these children may have other reasons for mutism. These children are literally stuck in the nonverbal stage of communication. Selective Mutism is therefore a symptom. Studies have shown no evidence that the cause of Selective Mutism is related to abuse, neglect or trauma.

What is the difference between Selective Mutism and traumatic mutism? Children who suffer from Selective Mutism speak in at least one setting and are rarely mute in all settings. Most have inhibited temperaments and manifest social anxiety. For children with Selective Mutism, their mutism is a means of avoiding the anxious feelings elicited by expectations and social encounters.

Children with traumatic mutism usually develop mutism suddenly in all situations. An example would be a child who witnesses the death of a grandparent or other traumatic event, is unable to process the event, and becomes mute in all settings. It is important to understand that some children with Selective Mutism may start out with mutism in school and other social settings. Due to negative reinforcement of their mutism, misunderstandings from those around them, and perhaps heightened stress within their environment, they may develop mutism in all settings.

www.integrated-trading.com/assets/bossier/free-dating-in-wichita-kansas.php What behavior characteristics does a child with Selective Mutism portray in social settings? It is important to realize that the majority of children with Selective Mutism are as normal and as socially appropriate as any other child when in a comfortable environment. Parents will often comment how boisterous, social, funny, inquisitive, extremely verbal, and even bossy and stubborn these children are at home! What differentiates most children with Selective Mutism is their severe behavioral inhibition and inability to speak and communicate comfortably in most social settings.

Some children with Selective Mutism feel as though they are on stage every minute of the day! This can be quite heart-wrenching for both the child and parents involved. Often, these children show signs of anxiety before and during most social events. Physical symptoms and negative behaviors are common before school or social outings. It is important for parents and teachers to understand that the physical and behavioral symptoms are due to anxiety and treatment needs to focus on helping the child learn the coping skills to combat anxious feelings.

It is common for many children with Selective Mutism to have a blank facial expression and never seem to smile. Many have stiff or awkward body language when in a social setting and seem very uncomfortable or unhappy. Some will turn their heads, chew or twirl their hair, avoid eye contact, or withdraw into a corner or away from the group seemingly more interested in playing alone. Others are less avoidant and do not seem as uncomfortable. They may play with one or a few children and be very participatory in groups. These children will still be mute or barely communicate with most classmates and teachers.


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  4. Over time, these children learn to cope and participate in certain social settings. They usually perform nonverbally or by talking quietly to a select few. Social relationships become very difficult as children with Selective Mutism grow older. As peers begin dating and socializing more, children with Selective Mutism may remain more aloof, isolated, and alone. Children with Selective Mutism often have tremendous difficulty initiating and may hesitate to respond even nonverbally.

    This can be quite frustrating to the child as time goes by. Ingrained behavior often manifests itself by a child looking and acting normally but communicating nonverbally. This particular child cannot just start speaking. Treatment needs to center on methods to help the child unlearn the present mute behavior. What are the most common characteristics of children with Selective Mutism? Most, if not all, of the characteristics of children with Selective Mutism can be attributed to anxiety.

    When are most children diagnosed as having Selective Mutism? Most children are diagnosed between 3 and 8 years old. In retrospect, it is often noted that these children were temperamentally inhibited and severely anxious in social settings as infants and toddlers, but adults thought they were just very shy. Most children have a history of separation anxiety and being slow to warm up.

    Often it is not until children enter school and there is an expectation to perform, interact and speak, that Selective Mutism becomes more obvious. What often happens is teachers tell parents the child is not talking or interacting with the other children. In other situations, parents will notice, early on, that their child is not speaking to most individuals outside the home. Why do so few teachers, therapists and physicians understand Selective Mutism?

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    Studies of Selective Mutism are scarce. Most research results are based on subjective findings based on a limited number of children. In addition, textbook descriptions are often nonexistent, or information is limited, and in many situations, the information is inaccurate and misleading. As a result, few people truly understand Selective Mutism. Professionals and teachers will often tell a parent, the child is just shy, or they will outgrow their silence. Others interpret the mutism as a means of being oppositional and defiant, manipulative or controlling.

    Some professionals erroneously view Selective Mutism as a variant of autism or an indication of severe learning disabilities.

    Signs of selective mutism

    For most children who are truly affected by Selective Mutism, this is completely wrong and inappropriate! Mutism not only persists in these children, but is negatively reinforced. These children may develop oppositional behaviors out of a combination of frustration, their own inability to make sense of their mutism, and others pressuring them to speak.

    As a result of the scarcity and often inaccuracy of information in the published literature, children with Selective Mutism may be misdiagnosed and mismanaged. In many circumstances, parents will wait and hope their child outgrows their mutism and may even by advised to do so by well-meaning, but uninformed professionals. However, without proper recognition and treatment, most of these children do NOT outgrow Selective Mutism and end up going through years without speaking, interacting normally, or developing appropriate social skills. In fact, many individuals who suffer from Selective Mutism and social anxiety who do not get proper treatment to develop necessary coping skills may develop the negative ramifications of untreated anxiety see below.

    Our findings indicate that the earlier a child is treated for Selective Mutism, the quicker the response to treatment, and the better the overall prognosis. In other words, Selective Mutism can become a difficult habit to break! Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses among children and adolescents. Our main objective is to diagnose children early, so they can receive proper treatment at an early age, develop proper coping skills, and overcome their anxiety.

    If parents suspect their child has Selective Mutism, what should they do? However, please note that having experience with Selective Mutism does not guarantee that the treatment approach and understanding is correct.

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