What is Selective Mutism?

Selective Mutism (also known as SM) is a term used when children who are able to talk comfortably to some people, usually family members and close friends, are silent or unable to talk to other people.

Selective Mutism is considered a type of anxiety disorder and is not a ‘choice’ made by the child.

The age of onset for Selective Mutism is between 3 and 5 years of age, which is typically when children begin playgroup, nursery, or school and the problem becomes apparent. Children can be considered as having Selective Mutism if they have not spoken in specific situations to certain people for over a month, however this does not include the first month of school/nursery as it can take time for them to settle in to a new environment.

Low vs High-Profile Selective Mutism

Not all children with Selective Mutism are completely silent; some children have what is known as ‘low-profile SM’, which means they will speak when prompted but will struggle to start conversations. Children with high-profile Selective Mutism are easier to recognise because they do not speak at all to certain people.

Facts about Selective Mutism:

How can a Speech and Language Therapist help?

Speech and Language Therapists are often one of the key professionals involved in assessing and treating a child with Selective Mutism, however the treatment process will always involve working as a team with family members and school/nursery staff.

Initially, an assessment of the child and their environments would be carried out before any intervention takes place. Intervention for children with Selective Mutism includes:

Early identification is essential for ensuring that steps are taken before the child’s anxieties become firmly established.

How can parents help?

Important things to remember about Selective Mutism:

Helpful resources:

Check out these useful links for more information on Selective Mutism:






[INSERT NUGGET 7]- About Emma

If you would like to know any more information about Selective Mutism, or if you are concerned that your child might have Selective Mutism do not hesitate to contact one of our speech and language therapists at SLT for Kids on office@sltforkids.co.uk or call 0330 088 2298.

About Ali

More articles by Ali

What is Johansen individualised auditory stimulation therapy?

Johansen individualised auditory stimulation (IAS) therapy is a way of developing and improving an individual's listening, it can be useful for both children and adults and guides the individual to focus on what they hear. The therapy involves...

Read article...

Top Tips for Screen time

What is screen time? Children are becoming more and more tech savvy meaning that at times they are more advanced using technology than the adults around them. Many children look forward to having their Ipad for their treat time every day...

Read article...
Yellow music note icon

Speech Clinic

Our speech and language therapists provide a range of services for children with speech, language and communication needs.

Visit Clinic
Red speech block icon

Voice Clinic

We provide specialist speech and language therapy services for children with voice difficulties.

Visit Clinic
Green knife icon

Feeding Clinic

Our expert speech and language therapists provide a range of services for children with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties, alongside our professionals multidisciplinary team.

Visit Clinic
Back to top icon Toggle Text to speech