Selective Mutism in Early Childhood Assessment and Treatment of an African American Preschool Boy

The authors note that Selective mutism (SM) is a relatively uncommon disorder in childhood, occurring in only 0.3 to 1.8 children per thousand, and in early childhood. Since diagnosing SM can be particularly challenging, the condition often goes unrecognized until the school years. With the potential comorbidity of anxiety and communication deficits, treatment can be challenging. Attendance in early childhood educational programs allows intervention in a contextually sensitive way that may also help address comorbidities and promote generalization. The authors suggest his case study of an African American preschool boy highlights the unique obstacles and opportunities of assessment and treatment in a preschool setting. The authors describe a three-step behavioral approach to addressing SM in collaboration with educators over a 3-month period. The authors note substantive research indicates that early intervention with SM is associated with decreased likelihood of developing an anxiety-related disorder later in childhood, and suggest tailored assessment and intervention in early childhood within a community-based setting may be extremely useful.

Conn, Bridgid M & Coyne, Lisa W. (2014). Selective Mutism in Early Childhood Assessment and Treatment of an African American Preschool Boy. Clinical Case Studies, 13, 487-500.

About rickyWburk

Ricky W. Burk, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, is a speech-language pathologist who provides in-home therapy for adolescents and adults residing in Tennessee and Mississippi who stutter. His career includes PreK, elementary, middle, and high school practice, undergraduate & graduate faculty appointments, skilled nursing, national & international consultation, private practice, and national & international speaking presentations. He holds the American Speech-Language Hearing Association Certificate of Clinical Competence, and he is a Board Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders. He is the ASHA Continuing Education Administrator for the National Association for Speech Fluency.
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