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Why doesn't my son talk to anyone?

Q: My 3-year-old son does not talk to anyone. We thought that he is just shy and kept encouraging him to talk, but I find him talking only to a familiar group of people like his crèche mates and us. His teacher is tired trying to make him talk. I find him totally expressionless with a blank face in social settings. He does not respond, when somebody asks his name and school. At home, he speaks very good language. The school van driver says he has not seen him talking or singing in the van. I think my son has an anxiety disorder called "selective mutism". Other than this I don't find any other problem with him, be it his appetite or sleeping pattern. I am very worried and depressed about my child. I am a working-woman and both me or my husband adjust our work schedule to stay with him at home whenever possible. He is our elder son and the younger one is one and a half year old. I want to consult a good psychologist to treat or counsel him. How can I improve his confidence and build his self-esteem? How long will it take to bring him out of this problem?

A:The person who diagnosed your son as having "Selective Mutism" is the best person to guide you on further treatment. Your child seems OK with his parents and with his crèche mates. It is only the new classmates who make him clam up. Surely he will get over it. But I am a little confused by your description, because you say he is three years old and is in Primary School. He seems to have left the crèche behind? Perhaps you are expecting too much at too early an age. Children are not like cassette players to respond with ease to a "fast forward". He will decide when he wants to start talking to the others in school and it is best not to put pressure on him. There is no need for you to get depressed. But it would be a good idea to help your child to be less anxious. Consult a Psychologist or School Counsellor who can help you.

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