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14A Child May Have Selective Mutism

Staff photo by Christy Wooten Autistic children are very visual. They also mimic and mirror behavior better than producing them on their own so teachers and speech therapist use these techniques to help Alex Stoker,7, left, with his speech therapy. Activities include pronouncing certain sounds such as vowels correctly or making statments like "I want this" or "I want that." "We want to make language functional for them," Jan Ward, not pictured, of Professional Speech and Language Service said. "Requesting what you want is important for all autistic children because they need to communicate. We use language to think." But, Ward said, across the board, autistic children do not process what they are hearing the same way as non-autistic children. "It doesn't mean they can't hear," Ward said. Tactical cues like pictures or objects help them pronounce and remember the words.

Until a high-functioning child is 3 years old, it may be tricky to identify a difficulty in communication. However, as they age, parents will have a better understanding and explanations of certain social behaviors, such as, how their child relates and interacts with others. For example, it is possible for parents to

notice that their child, although able to fully communicate at home, may have a harder time around strangers or new environments. It is common for people to think that they are shy or, in a more serious case, suffers from autism.

In addition, it is possible that a child may suffer from selective mutism, which is an anxiety disorder that makes a child go silent when they are uncomfortable. Kids with autism, on the other hand, will struggle in social situations in general, whether they are comfortable or not.

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