Skip to NavigationSkip to content

Autism and selective mute

5 replies [Go to latest post]

hi! jsut wonder if any of you have the same problems as my child.

My 8 yrs son has ASD. His previous speech therapist suspected he might also have selective mutism, as he speaks at home and in school but he is not able to speak in other situations at all.

But his CAMHS team looks think that no therapy is necessary for his selective mutism.

I am not convinced.

Any of you have similar case? How did you deal wtih? can I just leave it without any interventions for his selective mutism???



Tony Attwood's The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, has a short section on this p223-4 under the heading Verbal Fluency (if you can get your hands on a copy it is worthwhile).

He explains it as down to anxiety, which makes sense to me. You need to try to understand what might be causing stress in the situation where he is unforthcoming. It seems to relate to sensory overload. In quiet conditions aspies communicate well, but in any competing or threatening environment, the ability to speak clearly is reduced by the competing stress.

Thanks, Longman, very useful, will get Tony Attwood's book (very famous book, isn't it?). I agree, they all come down to anxiety. 


Once agian, thank you for your kind advice!


Silent anxiety

The label is accurate but does little to offer a possible option of bridge or connection for progress, the stage of personal futility this represents, is the door of isolation and seperation that offers solace of that there is no doubt.

My expression of this as a stage of choice on a number of occasions was on of gestation and observation and I have commented on this in another of my posts and replies.

( 11, feb time15,36.......So for those of you who can remember the drive of clarity you were born with. The early understandings you built in the silence of your early awareness that has long isolated you. Find a way to set aside the fears you have been asked to adopt. Remembered the part of you that was clear before you had to speak, )

For me selected Mutism represented a wall that was impenetrable with the tools of language as they had been handed to me or exercised to that point. if you like it represented the scenario that is often expressed as and experience that wheel chair user have when people talk about them and around them in their presence as if they were no part of the situation or even capable of expressing an opinion.

A New world view, the cosmology of the monotropic mind is so vast and eventually overwhelmingly evident without explanation or perception to the autistic that this is a constant wall of an undefined nature that is experienced as seperation so much so that seperation becomes the choice of circumstance.

we cannot make ourselves understood and take refuge and stock in silence whic offers us the time, space and view uninterupted to form our own deffinition of what we see. it is I believe a stage of autistic development that has not set time peramiter other than when it is selected is a gestation period for self development in the face of no clear referencing that secures a definition of anything we are able to recognise. I think it can be the seat of the God complex we choose as we seek to name all that surrounds by our deffinition, wiht our view and experiences.

This time is delicate and crucial to the degree in my view to which a person with ASD will be able to participate and the degree to which we choose to identify with the world around us. 

Above all frustration, anger and annoyance with this stage by those who are around the mute will form the basis of measure of human behaviour, trust and what people do when they are left free and unrestrained in our presence. It is the silent crucible of who you are that is being viewed, what does the ASD person see, If you wish to truly answer that you will need to look at yourself through a strangers eyes.


The words we utter represent power, but if we are silent the the power of the words no longer exist not because they are not ther but because they hold no value anymore.

Once words have been uttered they are forever out ther and like a pebble in a pond there effect forever ripples across the world in which we find ourselves and its reaches we do not have in our view.

Sentimen attributed to Salman Rushdi


Does it cause any real problem? I hope you don't take offence at this, but neuro-typical people (non AS people) often talk for what can appear to someone with AS as no reason.

Neuro-typical(NT) people chat to "socialise", about how someone is feeling, what they've been doing, what the weather is like, etc. It's reassuring for NT people, but for those on the Autistic spectrum can be confusing or distracting, and can make them feel pressured. We either shut down, or we can start talking and not know when to stop and let someone else speak. Either reaction is baffling to an NT who doesn't understand it.

I have no experience of dealing with a child with mutism and was not mute as a child (although I didn't speak a lot at school) but from an Aspie point of view, I believe it might be better not to worry about it. Be aware that stress is causing it and do what you can to try to make him more at ease - for example going shopping at quieter times of day. Try not to show you are worried - act confident, to give him a role model. If someone tries to speak to him, wait briefly to see if he responds, and if not tell the person he is not feeling well at the moment. Don't try to make him speak and talk to him quietly and gently when you need to communicate with him.

Another idea would be to buy him a cheap mobile phone and let him have this as a treat when you are out, and see if he can  text you if he wants to communicate. Might sound a bit silly, but we often deal better with visual communication than verbal communication. If he is struggling with reading and writing, perhaps you could teach him to use emojis to communicate with you? 

Hope this is of some help 

Dont worry since he is talking when he wants to.

Sometimes I found myself unable to word things.  One person was particularly good with me when I couldn't 'speak'.  Another person knows and gives me the time to express it.

Whether it is selective, I challenge that because that suggests we ourselves choose to be silent. At the odd times when I have been ie selective mutism, I really was unable to verbalise anything even if for a few minutes.

But for some it may be selective mutism as the term suggests and was told a good way of testing whether we are sulking or not, if for those of us with special interest hobbies, ask us a question about it to us and we will not stop talking about it if it the sulks.  I don't have a special interest or hobby but know i have had brief spells where it certainly isn't selective mutism - as i say, too many words in my head and find it hard to grab one, to begin....  When really struggling and need to share I will draw albiet badly but the person helping me will then ask me about picture....

the funny bit to that was that last month some time I was with someone waiting for a lift and was chatting. They interrrupted me and said, he is listening, he promises.  For some unknowing reason I took this to mean, be quiet. So I said a broad accented but sulky yeh and fell silent. Five mintues went by, and then he asked me a question which did get me talking again. He wasn't asking me to be quiet at all, just i had misunderstood him then. 

So we can think we are being asked not to talk or something too and need 'permission' to speak again if we think we been asked not to talk....