Muteness or mutism (from Latin mutus, meaning "silent") is an inability to speak often caused by a speech disorder, hearing loss, or surgery. Someone who is mute may be so due to the unwillingness to speak in certain social situations.
Selective mutism previously known as "elective mutism" is an anxiety disorder very common among young children, characterized by the inability to speak in certain situations. It should not to be confused with someone who is mute and cannot communicate due to physical disabilities. Selectively mute children are able to communicate in situations in which they feel comfortable. About 90% of children with this disorder have also been diagnosed with social anxiety. It is very common for symptoms to occur before the age of five and do not have a set time period. Not all children express the same symptoms. Some may stand motionless and freeze in specific social settings and have no communication whatsoever.
Alalia is a disorder that refers to a delay in the development of speaking abilities in children. In severe cases, some children never learn how to speak. It is caused by illness of the child or the parents, the general disorders of the muscles, the shyness of the child or that the parents are close relatives.
Most intellectually disabled children learn to speak, but in the severe cases they can't learn speech (IQ 20-25). Children with Williams syndrome have good language skills with mean IQ 50. Children with Down syndrome often have impaired language and speech.
Symptoms of selective mutism
- The inability to maintain eye contact
- Sensitive in loud crowded situations
- Social isolation and withdrawal
- Stubbornness or aggressiveness when getting home from a stressful event
Some mute patients have adapted to their disability by using machines that vibrate their vocal cords, allowing them to speak. Oesophageal speech can give some speaking ability. 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 and/or a button loaded with messages into electronic vocalizations, enabling the mute and the speech-impaired to "speak".
Another techniques of the augmentative and alternative communication include:
- written notes
- helper pages, books with letters, words, iconic and Bliss symbols and pictures and their tangible versions
- lip-reading by the communication partner
- speech recording and replaying
- alternative pointers
- isolating and frustrating
- severe problems with building new relationships
- Augmentative and alternative communication
- Developmental disability
- Speech delay
- Vocal cord paresis
- Dr. Bánki M Csaba: A beteg elme
- Uta Fridh: Autizmus - A rejtély nyomában
- Steven Pinker: A nyelvi ösztön
- Page 6 in: Leonard, Laurence B. (1998). Children with specific language impairment. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-62136-3.
- Dr. Erdélyi Andrea: Nézd a kezem!
- The Hungarian Bliss Found
- Rowland, C., & Schweigert, P. (1989). Tangible Symbol Systems: Symbolic communication for individuals with multisensory impairments. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 5(4), 226-234.
- Rowland, C., & Schweigert, P. (1996). Tangible Symbol Systems (DVD). Portland, OR: Oregon Health & Science University.
- Rowland, C. & Schweigert, P. (2000a). Tangible symbols, tangible outcomes. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 16 (2), 61-78.
- Rowland, C., & Schweigert, P. (2000b). :Tangible Symbol Systems (2nd Ed.). Portland, OR: Oregon Health & Science University.
- Unterstützte Kommunikation ...aus Marion Meyer(pdf)