What is mutism?

What Does mutism Mean

The concept of mutism has its origin in the Latin mutus , a term that refers to muteness , that is to say, the suspension of speech by an individual. The people suffering from mutism remain silent in certain situations; The causes of this silence can be various and can be activated voluntarily or as a consequence of a condition beyond their control.

The main causes of mutism are physical and are usually linked to the vocal cords , tongue , mouth , throat, or lungs . In some cases, mutism is linked to deafness : someone who was born deaf has never heard of speech and therefore does not learn to develop this ability. A person , in any case, can contract mutism at any time in his life due to an illness or an accident .

Muteness is often defined through the concept of aphonia , which is the medical concept that is used regarding the lack of ability to speak. A common reason for aphonia is that it occurs, whether due to surgery, a tumor or an accident, damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve that is responsible for controlling most of the muscles found in the larynx.
In any case, for a person to develop this disorder, it does not necessarily have any physical complication, in some cases it occurs due to psychological causes that lead the subject to take refuge in silence as a way to avoid certain problems that would otherwise cause them stress.
Generally mutism develops before the age of five but is only diagnosed when children start school; it can appear as a circumstantial problem and disappear in the same way that it came, or remain for several years; In both cases, it is convenient for the child to begin psychological treatment in which the causes of said disorder can be analyzed, which in many cases is due to a deficiency in social functioning.
Along with mutism, other language disorders may appear , such as dysglossia, dyslalias and rhinolalias (three problems characterized by the inability to pronounce certain phonemes correctly for various reasons); excessive shyness , withdrawal, enuresis , emotional instability, among others. In addition, one of the problems that arise are school dropouts and the feeling of incomprehension when being mocked by their peers due to this disorder.
According to what has been discerned based on the studies carried out, the factors that favor the appearance of mutism can be language disorders, overprotection , mental retardation, trauma experienced before reaching the age of three, emigration and the beginning of the school stage.

Degrees of mutism
When making a diagnosis of mutism, it is necessary to analyze the individual's age (the more serious the age of the patient is, the more serious it lasts) (since the inhibition was known, how long has passed, the greater this time, the severity may also be greater), the intensity (the severity is greater the less you speak in the face of a situation that causes mutism) and the extension (it will be more serious the more often and more commonly mutism crises occur). With these data, the severity of the disorder can be diagnosed, which can be:
* Total mutism : it is diagnosed in people who, in any situation, manifest this disorder and in front of any other person. It is the most serious, and causes total inhibition of speech;

* Language selective mutism : children from migrant families who refuse to speak the language of the country where they live, even though they understand it;

* Selective mutism of people : it occurs in those children who choose whom to speak to and only do so in front of certain relatives or friends;

* Selective mutism of situations : those children who only speak at home or in certain situations, especially at times when they are in front of few people.
The selective mutism is usually a result of an anxiety disorder and to solve it is necessary to discern the causes of this.
It is essential that parents of children who suffer from mutism have a clear notion of the situation that their child is going through. Children with mutism suffer high levels of suffering and severe problems of adaptation to new environments ; they feel unprotected and through muteness they try to go unnoticed, to avoid becoming the center of ridicule and for others to ignore their emotional state. By knowing these issues, parents can provide their children with a healthier and more welcoming environment where they do not feel threatened, while helping them (through appropriate therapy) to overcome the disorder.
Por último, es necesario aclarar que el mutismo en algunos casos ni siquiera se trata de un trastorno, sino de un acto voluntario. Algunas personas pueden escoger abandonar el habla por determinadas razones y se transforman en mudos; esto ocurre, por ejemplo, con quienes forman parte de ciertas órdenes religiosas que prescinden de la comunicación oral.

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