Selective Mutism in Our Own Words

SELECTIVE MUTISM IN OUR OWN WORDS, by Carl Sutton,  is a book about Selective Mutism (SM) by the experts in the condition: those directly affected by it. It gives a voice to people who have all too often found themselves silent, thereby filling a gap in the SM resources currently available. The authors and the many contributors to the book share their firsthand experiences of SM, giving unique insights into this often misunderstood condition. Their words are powerful, often heartbreaking, and at times uplifting. They convey the frustrations of those who want to talk but find they can’t; and the psychological distress and physiological symptoms caused by this socially isolating and disabling condition.To read some of  Judith Rosenfield’s experiences from treating Selective Mutism at King’s Speech, be sure to read Chapter 14!


This book is essential reading for anyone coping with SM, and for professionals seeking to understand the condition. It highlights that SM affects people throughout their lives and is not a childhood-only disorder; SMaffects individuals in many different settings and is not a school-only issue; and SM in children is rarely the result of neglect or abuse. SM is caused by extreme anxiety and is not a choice, shyness, or stubbornness. In SM anxiety manifests itself through the inability to talk and in other ways such as panic attacks and frozen facial expressions. The book makes the case for tackling SM early on in life, when it is a concern to the adults in the child’s life, but is not yet an issue for the child themselves


The most important messages of this book are firstly that SM is treatable, and secondly that with determination – and preferably support – people with SM can live fulfilled lives. Topics explored in the book include SM and how it develops; the educational, family and life experiences of those with SM; SM and Asperger Syndrome and learning difficulties; parents and professionals’ experiences. Perhaps the most moving chapter concerns how different life would have been without SM. In Kimberly’s words ‘Without SM, I would’ve spoken up when I was being wronged, I would’ve had more opportunities, and less abuse. No screaming in my head that dissipates like smoke, unacknowledged. I could’ve been HEARD’. ‘Yeah, without SM, I’d be that person. But I’m this person and that’s very OKAY.’ ENDQUOTE


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