Those who are physically mute may have problems with the parts of the human body required for human speech (the throat, vocal cords, lungs, mouth, or tongue, etc.). Being mute is often associated with deafness as people who have been unable to hear from birth may not be able to articulate words correctly (see deaf-mute), but muteness describes people who can hear but cannot talk. Other causes include intellectual disability and autism. A person can be born mute, or become mute later in life due to injury or disease. The prevalence of mutism from all causes is on the order of 8 persons per 10000.
Trauma or injury to the Broca's area of the brain can cause muteness.
Akinetic mutism is inability to speak (mutism) and move (akinesia). It is the result of severe frontal lobe injury in which the pattern of inhibitory control is one of increasing passivity and gradually decreasing speech and motion.
Some mute patients have adapted to their disability by using machines that vibrate their vocal cords, allowing them to speak. Others learn sign language to communicate.
Computers also facilitate communication, both with smart phones and the Internet. Many augmentative and alternative communication devices exist to allow people to communicate; these include "text-to-speech" devices and/or software programs, which turns typed text into electronic vocalizations, enabling the mute and the speech-impaired to "speak".
- Augmentative and alternative communication
- Developmental disability
- Healing the deaf mute of Decapolis
- Speech delay