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Hypersensitivity and Selective Mutism

Joleen R. Fernald, M.S., CCC-SLP

March 12, 2013

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Question

Is there a link between Selective Mutism and children who are hypersensitive?

Answer

Yes, actually there is.  Although the research is still lacking, that is actually the topic of  my dissertation. I’m  looking at children with SM and their sensory profiles.  One thing that I have found in a pilot study is that many children seem to have this under-reactive profile in social situations so that they are sensory avoiders in those social situations.  Often they appear with a flat affect and little connection with their social environment.  When children with SM are much more comfortable and confident, they tend to be sensory seekers where they really are seeking out that kind of sensory input.  They do tend to be very hypersensitive in general.  I frequently recommend children with SM be seen by an occupational therapist to determine the relationship between the child’s sensory system and their regulatory ability.  This can have a significant impact on the child’s success.

Joleen Fernald, MS, CCC-SLP, PhD(c) has a special interest in the social emotional development of young children and its impact on their speech and language skills. As a speech-language pathologist, Joleen works with children who have a variety of communication disorders. She partnered with Easter Seals NH in 2008 to begin an assessment and treatment clinic specifically for children with selective mutism.


joleen r fernald

Joleen R. Fernald, M.S., CCC-SLP

Joleen R. Fernald, MS, CCC-SLP, PhD(c), is an Expert DIR®Floortime™ Provider and Training Leader. She is an adjunct professor for Granite State College and is currently a PhD candidate studying infant mental health and developmental disabilities. Joleen has a special interest in the social emotional development of young children and its impact on their speech and language skills. As a speech-language pathologist, Joleen works with children who have a variety of communication disorders. She partnered with Easter Seals NH in 2008 to begin an assessment and treatment clinic specifically for children with selective mutism.


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