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Selective Mutism

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by the persistent failure to speak in situations where speaking is expected (e.g., school or social settings) even though speech does occur in other situations (e.g., at home). Although selective mutism emerges most commonly in early childhood, if untreated it can continue throughout an individual’s lifespan. Selective mutism is known to frequently co-occur with other anxiety and related disorders (e.g., social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, school refusal). The exact etiology of the condition is unclear, though several studies have identified that a high number of parents of individuals with selective mutism have a history of anxiety disorders. In addition to this genetic component, some behavioral explanations have identified an environmental component (e.g., negative reinforcement) in the disorder. ...

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