• selective mutism;
  • anxiety;
  • academic performance;
  • language;
  • children


We examined receptive language and academic abilities in children with selective mutism (SM; n = 30; M age = 8.8 years), anxiety disorders (n = 46; M age = 9.3 years), and community controls (n = 27; M age = 7.8 years). Receptive language and academic abilities were assessed using standardized tests completed in the laboratory. We found a significant group by sex interaction for receptive vocabulary scores such that, within females, the SM and mixed anxiety groups had significantly lower receptive vocabulary scores than community controls. We also found that children with SM and children with anxiety disorders had significantly lower mathematics scores than community controls. Despite these differences in mathematics and receptive vocabulary performance, children with SM and children with anxiety disorders still performed at age-level norms, while more children in the community control group performed above age-level norms. Findings suggest that despite their speaking inhibition in the school setting, children with SM are still able to attain the receptive vocabulary and academic abilities that are expected at their age levels. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.