Is Selective Mutism a Speech Disorder?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV and DSM IV-TR) under Selective Mutism Diagnostic Features
and Differential Diagnosis, clearly indicate that Selective Mutism should be distinguished from speech impairments, and that
Selective Mutism should be diagnosed if the child’s failure to speak is not considered language impairment. It is further clarified
that communication disorders are not restricted to certain settings in contrast to Selective Mutism.

It is difficult to evaluate a child’s verbal skills when they do not speak to teachers, professionals or other adults. Only about 10%
of Selective Mutism children appear to have a language, learning or speech articulation problem needing special speech therapy.
These children will need an assessment of verbal and academic skills before special education or speech language therapy is
recommended.

Unfortunately, many Selective Mutism children are placed inappropriately into speech and language therapy due to the
non-verbalization.