Selective mutism is mainly present in children rather than adults but it’s a rare psychological disorder. In this disorder, patients face difficulty speaking in public like classrooms or assembly halls.It is estimated that 0.1 to 0.7% of the population of the world has been affected by Selective Mutism, however there is no proper record of the disorder. Symptoms of selective mutism begin at the age of 2.7 to 4.2 years old. We have shared some tips below to overcome the disorder of selective mutism. Follow these steps to speak in public easily and confidently.
Check to see if you, a friend, or loved one, meet(s) the criteria for having selective mutism:
- Unable to speak confidently in different social situations like in school or in assembly.
- Inability of speaking in front of people creates a bad impact on social and school functions.
- This inability to speak may last for several months in school other than the first month because everyone needs some time to adjust in a new place.
- These symptoms should not be included in other disorders like autism/Asperger syndrome, schizophrenia, or general psychotic disorders.
- Inability of speaking is not the choice of a person, it should be the cause of anxiety that restricts you to speak.
- Recognize the extent to which selective mutism is affecting your daily functioning: To overcome this disorder, firstly find out in which circumstances and situation it is affecting you and how. For example, notice that if a child feels comfortable and relaxed while talking with their friends and unable to speak in front of adults or in public. Just like that a child is behaving normally at home or in front of his parents but stays silent and nervous in school. By finding out these situations where a child is facing selective mutism, it can be easy and helpful to overcome and treat the disorder.
- If you can get others to help, try to overcome selective mutism gradually with the “Stimulus Fading technique”: TTo overcome the disorder, try to communicate with the person with whom you feel comfortable with. Then gradually communicate with some other person and let them join in your conversation. It will help you to get comfortable with another person easily. This idea of talking to an unknown person will help you to overcome your anxiety and also makes you comfortable with that person. Try communicating with more people using this trick and get comfortable with talking to them. This will overcome your selective mutism.
- Use “Systematic Desensitization Technique”: If above ideas and techniques do not work properly then use systematic desensitization techniques to overcome your selective mutism. In this technique, imagine a situation where you are unable to speak, then start speaking in imagination and communicate with people or in public to get comfortable. Contact the person with whom you feel uncomfortable through emails, chats or messages. This technique is very effective for anxiety and many phobias also. This systematic desensitization technique helps you to overcome selective mutism and also helps you to get confidence to speak in public and other situations.
- Practice as necessary with all kinds of communications: Try to get comfortable with others with little words or actions like raising your hand, nodding or shaking your head, pointing, writing, making some eye contact, etc. Then gradually speak a little more to get more comfortable with others. This short communication helps you to overcome selective mutism.
- Use “shaping technique”: Another technique which helps you to overcome selective mutism is “shaping technique”. In this technique, record your own speech and listen to it again and again to get comfortable and confident with your own voice. Do whisper with your friends or teacher in the classroom or in public places and then gradually increase your voice to treat your anxiety which causes selective mutism.
- Think positive: Always think positive that you will overcome selective mutism easily and soon. Don’t think that you can’t speak in front of people. This positive thinking strengthens your will power and helps you to fight with anxiety and overcome your selective mutism. It’s important for an adult or teenager to focus on positive thinking and improving communication skills to reduce anxiety and overcome selective mutism.
- Realize that butterflies (nervousness or even shaking) are common in certain situations; hence, you should start with smaller groups: You can also take and attend public speaking training programs or seminars for getting to know how to do presentations, or even for small venues including job interviews. Entertainers or public speakers also feel pressure while singing or speaking in front of a big audience. Sometimes experienced entertainers or public speakers take drugs before a concert to overcome anxiety or selective mutism and to release pressure in front of people. On stage when performers get nervous or feel anxiety they look at other performers and give a smile to one another to feel relaxed and overcome nervousness or anxiety. They have massive pressure in new social situations and also in front of crowds. This will help you to overcome selective mutism.
- Use medicines: If you are still facing selective mutism after using all these techniques and ideas then you should consult a doctor for proper medication and treatment. Some medicines that can help you to reduce your anxiety are fluoxetine (Prozac) and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medicines will help you to overcome your selective mutism and give you confidence to speak confidently in public. But some medicines cause adverse effects on your health like fluoxetine cause nausea, diarrhoea, nervousness, headache, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, serotonin syndrome, increased risk of bleeding and hyponatremia.
Selective mutism is a very common disorder present mainly in children of age between 2 to 4 years old. This causes inability to speak with other people or in situations like in school or assembly halls. To overcome selective mutism, try to communicate with those people whom you feel comfortable talking to. Then gradually communicate with others and involve different people in your conversation. Use different techniques like shaping technique or systematic desensitization technique to overcome anxiety that cause selective mutism. Try to think positively that you can speak in front of people or in a crowd. Many experienced performers or entertainers also feel nervous and anxious before going to the stage and they keep relaxing each other to release pressure from the crowd. You can also take medicines that reduce your stress and anxiety but these medicines cause adverse and harmful effects on your health. So, consult your doctor before taking these medicines.