The silence of the lambs (Why the child does not speak)


people say: “the Word — silver, silence — gold”. Despite the fact that the meaning of the proverb is clear and applicable in everyday life, however, there are cases when silence — is not gold, but...almost pathological.

Some children from age 3-7 years, when they start to kindergartens and schools begin to demonstrate a rather strange behavior: they are lively and sociable in some situations, but refuses to say — in other. It looks illogical at first glance: here the child safely communicated with the mother, opened and cheerful, but only came to school — the verse and stopped. Exactly. And how much of it do not persuade, to communicate it will not be exactly until, yet again, will not return home and see the mother as if nothing had happened will say: “Hello!”.

In my practice there was a case when to a special school for children with mental retardation (mental retardation), I came across an interesting girl, we'll call her Pauline. My task then was simple — a comprehensive cognitive examination, in other words, to test intelligence, memory, attention and emotional sphere of several children and make a portrait of this mental retardation. Now, Pauline, to my surprise, was absolutely normal in all respects, but for spontaneous speech it was missing at all. The girl even was reading from clearly and distinctly, but just to talk, even at the level of, “what do you call your mother/grandmother/cat?”, could not. It got me thinking about what it is or is not CRA at all, or it (the delay) is fairly specific. He began to understand. It turned out that such a condition really exists, and is even described long ago, but...very little studied.

the Phenomenon in question, called “elective (or selective or partial) mutism” or otherwise- selective mutism. It is considered to be borderline (between normal and pathology), uncommon (3–8 cases per 10 000 children), traditionally (medical) not treated and is sometimes itself passes. Sometimes it doesn't. Explore the subject experts of different disciplines: from clinical psychologists to teachers, because it is an important component of the successful socialization of each person, and its absence causes problems.

the reasons for the development of this condition can be varied. Here are the most common: moved a lot of stress, the symbiosis with the mother by type of hyperopic, excessive zeal for one's sibling (brother or sister), the adverse climate in the family, separation from one or both parents. And thus, it becomes clear that the problem of mutism — this is a problem when the feelings and experiences of the child otherwise do not count do not appear, and a ban on verbal communication becomes a means of psychological protection, on the one hand, and affordable way of manipulation — with another. And even if the family or one parent does not see this as a problem, it will see the social environment of the child and will declare it.

you should Also consider the likelihood of other abnormalities which may be similar to elective mutism. For example, if it was gone for a few days or weeks, when the child went to or school, and thus he adapts to unfamiliar situations and new people is the option of temporary muteness. If the child in addition to the refusal of speech if you experience symptoms like loss of interest to the world, impoverishment of emotional sphere, echolalia, ritual actions, it is suspected early infantile autism. And can take place trauma and organic brain damage, and we are dealing with aphasia. Is difficult to understand, right? I need a differential diagnosis, which can only be done by a specialist. Then we can say whether there is a delay in development, if Yes, it is primarily in relation to mutism or is it a consequence, or is it a different disorder in principle. And early detection helps to start treatment as early as possible to start the process, because it can self-will (but the residue remains), but maybe not. If we are dealing really with selective mutism, we can clearly say that the child has already formed the non-adaptive behavior that will continue to hamper its successful socialization.


today can offer children with such a problem?

  • for Example, to replace the ontogeny in the developmentally oriented psychotherapy of A. L. Wegner and Y. S. Shevchenko is a highly productive combined approach
  • Also promising is the child psychotherapy O. V. Anishenko based on the method of integral-neuroprogramming S. V. Kovalev,
  • it is Worth noting sensorimotor correction of neuropsychological dysfunctions, V. A. Korneev,
  • and of course integrated psychotherapy of mutism N.P.Zakharov

and others.

(this article was compiled using material from the book “Elective mutism. Eloquent silence” Yuri S. Shevchenko,N. To.Kirillin,N. P.Zakharov and clinical findings of a child 8 years of correctional schools of Izhevsk)

Joy Lada

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