Behavioral and Socio-emotional Functioning in Children with Selective Mutism: A Comparison with Anxious and Typically Developing Children Across Multiple Informants
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We examined differences among 158 children, 44 with selective mutism (SM; M = 8.2 years, SD = 3.4 years), 65 with mixed anxiety (MA; M = 8.9 years, SD = 3.2 years), and 49 community controls (M = 7.7 years, SD = 2.6 years) on primary caregiver, teacher, and child reports of behavioral and socio-emotional functioning. Children with SM were rated lower than controls on a range of social skills, but the SM and MA groups did not significantly differ on many of the social skills and anxiety measures. However, children with SM were rated higher than children with MA and controls on social anxiety. Findings suggest that SM may be conceptualized as an anxiety disorder, with primary deficits in social functioning and social anxiety. This interpretation supports a more specific classification of SM as an anxiety disorder for future diagnostic manuals than is currently described in the literature. The present findings also have implications for clinical practice, whereby social skills training merits inclusion in intervention for children with anxiety disorders as well as children with SM.
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