Anxiety disorder in which a person who is normally capable of speech cannot speak in specific situations or to specific people.
- Usually co-exists with shyness or social anxiety
- People with selective mutism stay silent even when the consequences of their silence include shame, social ostracism, or punishment.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; APA, 2013, p. 195) diagnostic criteria::
- Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations in which there is an expectation for speaking (e.g., at school), despite speaking in other situations.
- Disturbance interferes with educational/occupational achievement or with social communication
- Duration of the disturbance ≥ 1 month (not limited to first month of school)
- Failure to speak is not attributable to lack of knowledge of, or comfort with, the spoken language required in the social situation
- Disturbance is not better explained by a communication disorder (e.g., child-onset fluency disorder) and does not occur exclusively during the course of autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, or another psychotic disorder