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Dr-A-Greene, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 309
Experience:  Clinical and Forensic Psychologist
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i think my 14yr old son may be suffering from selective mute.

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i think my 14yr old son may be suffering from selective mute. He doesn't communicate when teachers ask him something like why are you? He does it with me too when he doesnt go to school. he is taking more and more time off school and wont give me a reason. he goes quite. He comes across as being very shy. I am worried because he will ruin his chances of doing well at school. Do you think he has SM? Thanx Michelle a worried parent

Selective Mutism is generally a disorder that begins when a child begins pre-school or kindergarten, if not before. If an older child is showing signs of SM, its safe to assume that he has been expressing this disorder for years.

If this is a new behavior, then, no - I would not think that its SM.

Additionally, SM is a specific response to anxiety. Thus, SM will often manifest itself in a new or threatening environment - not at home with people that are "safe." Thus, in your son's case, I doubt this is what's going on unless he has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in the past.

Has he?

Does he manifest this behavior when you are asking about other things or only in response to questions he doesn't want to answer?

I will wait for your reply before going on...


Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I can say that he has always been very quite and shy at school. Never talked to his teacher. He has never been diagnosed with anxiety. He goes silent when asked questions that he doesnt want to answer. He has always been very clingey doesnt like to sleep in the dark has a thing about having doors closed. Trying to think about as many things that could be of revelence. I hope they help

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX does help.

In general I think that he probably is shy and maybe has a personality that is quieter/clingier than some kids his age. However, being a little shy and not responding to questions/missing school are two different things. My guess is that he might be starting to exhibit some symptoms of mild defiance (which is basically my fancy way of saying that he's being stubborn - sorry!)

However, just because I don't think that this is Selective Mutism doesn't mean that his defiance isn't being caused by something deeper. Many times when kids display overt behavioral symptoms like not talking it's because they are experiencing depression or bullying and their response is simply to clam up. Do you know what his social life is like when it comes to school?

Do you know what he's doing when he doesn't go?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I thought he was being bullied and have talked to his tutor about this and they looked into it and assured me that he wasnt. Apparently he is popular and has many friends. When he is not at school he spends his time mostly playing games online with friends and chatting to them. I just feel that it is out of character of him to truant as he has never shown this behaviour in primary school.

Well, it may be out of character and it may not be... Truancy doesn't often begin in earnest until junior high or high school for most kids. The ages of 13-15 are extremely difficult for adolescents because they are struggling to form their identity. This is when some of those patterns start to materialize and solidify. Thus, he may have been a completely compliant child in primary school, but some of these habits are just starting to come about now.

What are the consequences when he skips school - also, how are his eating and sleeping habits?

Additionally, when kids are around age 13 the emphasis changes from being on the parents to being on their friends. While parents exert the most influence in a child's life up until about age 12, it begins to shift, so a teenager's friend group is extremely significant during this period. If his friends are also skipping school or using drugs, for instance, chances are that he will follow along without some stringent guidelines to avoid this type of behavior. Do you know his friends and what their behaviors are?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes I understand teens are hard. Consequences of not going to school I have tryed taking his laptop and xbox away for a couple of weeks with no result. I ignored him for 3 days that impacted on him on a big way. Other day when he didnt go to school iI thought he had gone to school when and was waiting for him to come home by 4.30pm I phoned school. They told me he had not been at school. He was hiding in his wardrobe I was not amused. I only know a few of his friends they go to school. He has a good appetite, has trouble sleeping at times.

Okay - so his behavior seems specifically aimed at not going to school - and his friend group seems alright. Also, he is very affected by your relationship with him and not as much by the taking away of privileges.

So, I think that Selective Mutism and Oppositional Defiant Disorder can be ruled out at this point - thank you for answering my questions.

My best guess would be that there is some stimulus at school that he is avoiding. I would have him evaluated for a learning disorder and/or depression.

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