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Keywords:

  • Selective mutism;
  • anxiety;
  • academic performance;
  • peer victimization

This study addressed four questions which parents of children with selective mutism (SM) frequently ask: (1) Is SM associated with anxiety or oppositional behavior? (2) Is SM associated with parenting and family dysfunction? (3) Will my child fail at school? and (4) Will my child make friends or be teased and bullied? In comparison to a sample of 52 community controls, 52 children with SM were more anxious, obsessive, and prone to somatic complaints. In contrast, children with SM were less oppositional and evidenced fewer attentional difficulties at school. We found no group differences in family structure, economic resources, family functioning, maternal mood difficulties, recreational activities, or social networks. While parents reported no differences in parenting strategies, children with SM were described as less cooperative in disciplinary situations. The academic (e.g., reading and math) and classroom cooperative skills of children with SM did not differ from controls. Parents and teachers reported that children with SM had significant deficits in social skills. Though teachers and parents rated children with SM as less socially assertive, neither teachers nor parents reported that children with SM were victimized more frequently by peers.