Should SLPs Assess and Treat Selective Mutism??

Selective Mutism is an anxiety-based disorder that results in an inability to speak in some environments despite speaking proficiently in others.

Treating Selective Mutism is definitely an interdisciplinary team approach but Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are experts in communication and pragmatics. We provide resources for the rest of the team, treatment for communication needs, counseling, and education about speech mechanisms and emotions towards communicating, therefore we should be a part of the team.

The scope of practice of SLPs includes diagnosing and managing SM, screening individuals with language and communication difficulties to determine the need for further assessment and/or referral to other services, conducting a comprehensive, culturally and linguistically appropriate assessment of speech, language, and communication, and making decisions on the management of SM. We also develop treatment plans, provide treatment, document progress, and determine appropriate dismissal criteria.

Counseling persons with SM and their immediate and extended families regarding communication-related issues and providing education aimed at preventing further complications relating to SM is also part of our scope. SLPs also consult and collaborate with other professionals, family members, caregivers, and others to facilitate program development and provide supervision, evaluation, and/or expert testimony as appropriate (ASHA, 2023).

We should be involved in treating SM because it has an impact on functional communication and pragmatics. Children with SM tend to have difficulty asking for help, describing problems, answering questions, telling and responding to jokes, and building strong relationships. They tend to produce short and simple sentences and have weak auditory memory and lower receptive language scores. (Kristenson & Oerbeck, 2006; Giddan et al., 1997; McInnes, Fung, Fiksenbaum, & Tannock, 2004; Nowakowski 27 et al., 2009)

The short answer is...Yes, the assessment and treatment of Selective Mutism falls within the scope of practice of SLPs.

For more information visit:


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.).Selective mutism[Practice Portal].