I have always believed strongly in not “over-pathologizing.” As the term implies, I don’t think it’s helpful to a child or a family to be told that every behavioral quirk in a child is a clear deviation from normal and therefore must be clinically addressed. Speech-language pathologists have research-based evaluation tools to determine with good confidence whether an underlying speech or language challenge is present. If there is something that would need to be addressed, we can reliably determine this. What we’re really trying to do is find a “happy medium” between alarmism and ensuring that we don’t miss anything. This blog post is dedicated to putting a clinical lens on what we can somewhat simplistically term shyness so you, as a parent, can get an idea at various ages if your shy child may need a speech and language evaluation from a trained professional.
Selective mutism, sometimes called elective mutism, refers to the abrupt cessation of speech in certain social situations, although the child can speak well in other situations. It is a severe type of social anxiety disorder. The cause of selective mutism is unknown; however, some children with the disorder have a family history of anxiety disorders.