Selective mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak or communicate effectively in certain social situations but ability to communicate in settings where they are comfortable and relaxed. This paper seeks to explain selective mutism including the description of theories of anxiety, history and etiology of selective mutism, and common characteristics associated with selective mutism. It also contains information about treatment options and determines which treatment is considered the most effective. The conclusion is that there is not one treatment that is considered the best for selective mutism. Selective mutism manifests differently from person to person, so an individualized treatment plan is required that includes both therapy and medication. It is also essential for the parents and teachers of children with selective mutism to be involved in the treatment to ensure that it is effective. Early recognition and treatment of selective mutism can have a profound impact on its prognosis so it is important that selective mutism is taught more so that individuals will be more likely to recognize selective mutism in the future. Overall, treatment for selective mutism is the most effective when it is individualized and includes aspects of therapy and medication combined with family/school education and involvement.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2023


Dan W. Florell

Mentor Department Affiliation


Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Biological Sciences