Selective Mutism Therapy and Counseling in Saratoga/San Jose

Get Help for Your Child with Selective Mutism in Saratoga/San Jose

At the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley in Saratoga/San Jose, we specialize in therapy for children with Selective Mutism. Our approach with selective mutism is practical, goal-oriented, compassionate, and scientifically-based while focusing on your child’s individual needs. With our central location in Saratoga just 1/2 mile from Hwy 85, the CBT Center serves children with selective mutism and their families in the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Cupertino and Campbell.

Selective Mutism

What is Selective Mutism?

Selective mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak in one or more social settings (e.g., at school, in public places, with adults) despite being able to speak comfortably in other settings (e.g., at home with family). These children understand language use and, although they have the physical and cognitive ability to speak, they demonstrate a persistent inability to speak in particular settings over a particular period of time due to anxiety. The average age of diagnosis is between 4 and 8 years old, or around the time a child enters school.

Selective Mutism can be confusing to parents. Your child may be very talkative and display normal behaviors at home or in another place where they feel comfortable. You may have been surprised to learn from a teacher that your child does not speak at school.

Most children with selective mutism function normally in other ways and learn age appropriate skills. However, some children with selective mutism may have other anxiety disorders, developmental delays such as impaired social skills, and communication disorders. It is important to have your child evaluated by a speech pathologist because it is estimated that a large percentage of children with selective mutism also have problems with expressive or receptive language.

Symptoms of Selective Mutism

  • Failure to speak in specific social situations (e.g. at school or day care).
  • Staring, looking away, hiding, or otherwise withdrawing when approached by others in the specific social situation.
  • Ability to speak at home or in other environments where the child feels comfortable.
  • Problems with school performance or peer interactions due to failure to speak.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Selective Mutism

The main goals of treatment are to lower anxiety, increase self-esteem and increase social confidence and communication. Emphasis should not be on getting a child to talk. With lowered anxiety, confidence, and the use of appropriate tactics/techniques, communication will increase as the child progresses from nonverbal to verbal communication. The main elements of treatment include:

  • Empathy and Trust: Treatment starts with developing a therapeutic relationship that establishes trust and safety with your child.
  • Assessment and Treatment Planning: We will work with you and your child to thoroughly assess the possible triggers and maintaining factors for your child’s selective mutism.
  • Behavior Therapy: Positive reinforcement and desensitization techniques are among the primary behavior techniques for Selective Mutism, as well as removing pressure to speak.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT can help your child learn to manage their fears and worries in a more realistic and helpful way. Many children with Selective Mutism worry about others hearing their voice, asking them questions about ‘why they do not talk’ and trying to force them to speak. The focus in CBT is on emphasizing the child’s positive attributes, building confidence in social settings, and lowering overall anxiety and worry.
  • School involvement: We’ll work with you so you can educate teachers and school personnel about selective mutism, helping them to understand that your child is not being defiant or stubborn by not speaking, that they truly can’t speak due to their anxiety. As the child progresses with treatment, the teacher should be involved in the treatment plan with verbalization being encouraged in subtle, non-threatening ways. An Individualized Educational Plan or 504 Plan may be necessary to help accommodate your child’s inability to communicate verbally and to help your child progress communicatively as well as build social comfort. If needed, your therapist may go to the school to observe your child at school and talk to teachers.
  • Family involvement: Family members must be involved in the entire treatment process. Changes in parenting styles and expectations might be needed to help your child.
How to Get Help for Your Child with Selective Mutism

We are located in Saratoga on the border of San Jose and Saratoga just 1/2 mile from Highway 85. With our convenient location near highway 85, we serve the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Los Altos, Cupertino and Campbell, CA. Contact us at (408) 384-8404 for more information on how we can help your child overcome selective mutism.

Serving the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Campbell, Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, CA

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