How Did This Rare Disorder Become Known?
The Selective Mutism Foundation (1991) was the major source in bringing this disorder to the forefront. As most health care
professionals had never heard of Elective Mutism (renamed to Selective Mutism 1994) nor treated the disorder, treatment was
based on medical journals dating back to the 1960’s. The available literature at the time was based on negative theories
describing Elective Mutism’s essential feature as the child “refusing” to speak along with characteristics of willful, controlling, and
manipulative behaviors, caused by maternal over protection, abuse, trauma, or family dysfunction.
The foundation’s input was the major source in eliminating theories and replacing them with sound facts. We appeared on the first
television program ever aired on Selective Mutism on the Maury Povich show in 1991. We were instrumental in changing the name
of the disorder to Selective Mutism along with the more positive description as social anxiety. We developed the first brochure
“Understanding Selective Mutism: A Silent Cry For Help!”. We printed the first newsletters on Selective Mutism in 1994 and
participated in the first research study at the National Institutes of Health. All of this brought increased awareness and therapists
began treating the disorder as anxiety and social phobia related.