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What is the difference between High Profile Selective Mutism and Low Profile Selective Mutism?

The terms "high-profile" and "low-profile" are used to describe different presentations of Selective Mutism (SM).

High profile SM refers to children who show a consistent inability to speak in certain situations, such as at school or with extended family members. High-profile Selective Mutism is typically more noticeable because the child is completely non-verbal in certain situations, e.g. they are unable to speak at school, or they may consistently be unable to talk to adults or peers at school.

In contrast, low-profile SM may be less noticeable to others because the child can communicate verbally to some extent. For example, they may be able to respond to their teacher on a one to one basis with single word replies, or they may be able to answer the register verbally - they can say a rehearsed phrase e.g. "good morning Miss..." or "here". This type of Selective Mutism may be more difficult to detect or diagnose as the child does speak to some extent.

In the case of low-profile SM, the fear of disapproval outweighs the fear of talking.

Children with SM are usually very compliant, and for these children, they muster up the courage to respond, however, they are still experiencing anxiety.

Their responses are very minimal; usually single word responses, they are unable to expand on their responses and they usually do not take part in any spontaneous speech.

It is important to note that children with low-profile SM are also significantly impacted by their anxiety and their difficulty to speak in specific situations. Even though they can speak a little (the bare minimum) they are not speaking freely, in the way that they speak at home.

Both high and low profile SM have significant impacts on a child's social and emotional development and wellbeing, and both require appropriate support and intervention to help the child overcome their anxiety and become able to communicate verbally across situations.

Please see this Facebook live and this video about high and low profile Selective Mutism on our YouTube channel.

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