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Is SM really a "childhood disorder"?

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Re: Is SM really a "childhood disorder"?

Postby bostonbruins77 » Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:08 am

Panic wrote:Ever since I learned how to talk I was Selectively Mute. I only talked/talk to selective family members and friends (all in all about 5 people). Other times I just felt/feel anxious and fell.fall silent in social interaction. I also have Autism in which people say SM is ruled out when Autism is in the picture. But considering my mutism is anxiety related rather than a communication problem, I still hold this label.

My question is, however, is that, can adults continue to have Selective Mutism? I hear a lot about children and the difficulty, but not so much about adults. In many ways, people find childrens mutism correctable and find it easy to tolerate. While when adults view other adults with SM, we're considered odd, annoying or disrespectful (I get more lectures than understanding these days).

I don't like talking, so I'm not botherd so much to what people think of me. They dont comprehend the meaning, but I don't expect all people to. Although being "the quiet one" in functions is fine by me, I'd really love to order for myself at restaurants (I'm 18!!!).

Any advice, or answers on my general question? Hrm..I wonder how pathetic I look at this moment :oops: ?


I don't particularly enjoy talking that much but I have learned there are situations where one has to do a minimal amount of talking to appear socially acceptable.Force yourself to do it .
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Re: Is SM really a "childhood disorder"?

Postby irregular-pioneer » Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:13 am

I'm 16 and I still have SM. It will stick with you if it isn't treated at an early age, and I think that's why all the information is usually in reference to children [I think since more children are treated, the odds of finding a mute adult is much rarer]
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Re: Is SM really a "childhood disorder"?

Postby Morphologism » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:16 pm

I think part of the problem is that research into SM has been focused largely on very young children, generally younger than 3, so telling SM apart from a developmental disorder is difficult. Out of several hundred studies I only know of one which has included adults, it's rare to even find studies of people with SM in their teenage years.

In the DSM-IV it's classified as an 'other disorder of childhood', which isn't helpful either. Obviously this is a huge misconception, one would not suddenly be cured of SM on one's 18th or 21st birthday (depending on country!). As for knowing if SM can start in adulthood, there's simply been no research into it. Basically the only idea put forward so far is that adults are better than children at avoiding situations that are uncomfortable, and so they don't seek help and rarely put themselves in situations where their SM would become apparent.
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Re: Is SM really a "childhood disorder"?

Postby mr.jack » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:24 pm

I was troubled with SM as a young child, but I 'grew out' of it around age 12. However, even now, I sometimes have difficulty with SM. I still find myself being unable to speak, when this happens I've found that its easier to 'force' words out, with no gramatical structure, than it is to try to speak normally. (I'm 20 years old)

hope this helps
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Re: Is SM really a "childhood disorder"?

Postby bettybb » Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:31 am

I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to add my personal experience with this condition for others who are looking for answers.

Adults can have selective mutism too. I do, and I'm 51-years-old. I've had it for as long as I can remember.

Aside from very short or one word answers, I can't have a conversation with anyone except for my husband and adult children. I must feel "safe" in order to speak to someone. The first time that I became aware of this disorder was when I was 4-years-old and couldn't speak to kids who came over to play. It made me feel "different" and inferior to others. School was always painful. The kids teased me, thought I was odd. I often skipped school as a result.

Selective mutism has affected my whole life in a negative way. People think I'm snobby, shy, or strange, and so it's very difficult to make friends. My mother-in-law and much of my husband's family thinks I'm cool and distant. It has hurt me professionally, making it difficult to get a job as I'm, of course, awful at interviews. I got a job online in the 90s for a greeting card company as my main mode of communication was written. But when my boss would call or fly in to visit, I could barely speak to him, which was humiliating.

Yesterday, a pushy neighbor cornered me in my yard. She said, "You're so quiet. I must bring you out of your shell." I've probably heard that line a zillion times, and I find it very insulting when someone thinks that they can fix me.

I was never diagnosed with this condition as a child and received no help for it. Perhaps they had no name for it then or maybe no one cared. It wasn't until I got online as an adult that I finally learned that there's a name for this condition. I'm grateful that I have greater understanding of the condition now and know I'm not alone. But I really hate that it's called "Selective Mutism" as it makes it seem as if the sufferer has a choice about speaking. We don't.

I'm also finding it very frustrating that there's little to no information about adults who suffer from this condition.
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