ERIC Number: EJ768656
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Aug
Reference Count: 18
Can Adults Who Have Recovered from Selective Mutism in Childhood and Adolescence Tell Us Anything about the Nature of the Condition and/or Recovery from It?
European Journal of Special Needs Education, v22 n3 p237-253 Aug 2007
The literature on selective mutism provides little information on the child's own perspective. Six adults who had been selectively mute were interviewed about their childhood and adolescence. Data analysis led to identification of five themes, each of which has potentially important implications for teachers. (1) Origins of selective mutism: all interviewees reported withdrawal from social interaction at an early age. There was evidence from three respondents that onset of selective mutism was associated with events they had found traumatic. (2) Maintenance of selective mutism: all interviewees reported being strong willed, with a conscious determination not to speak. Selective mutism became a clearly understood and well-defined social role. (3) Determination, social anxiety and loneliness, only two respondents (twins) reported feelings related to social anxiety in childhood, but other symptoms were reported. (4) In the recovery process four respondents reported their own conscious decision to change their current lifestyle as a precursor to starting to speak. (5) Concerning current psychosocial adjustment, four respondents had obtained therapy as adults, though not for selective mutism; five interviewees felt confident in formal, professional settings, but still experienced anxiety in informal, social situations. The data are discussed in light of previous work on selective mutism. In spite of inherent limitations, interviews with adults who have recovered may help teachers to understand both the development of the problem and their own role in helping students to recover from it. Interview guide: the perspective of the mute child is appended.
Descriptors: Teachers, Data Analysis, Children, Anxiety, Communication Disorders, Adults, Interpersonal Communication, Interpersonal Competence, Interviews, Childhood Attitudes, Interpersonal Relationship, Withdrawal (Psychology), Psychological Patterns, Therapy, Outcomes of Treatment
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A