More than Shyness: Selective Mutism and its Link to Sensory Processing Disorder

  • Katarzyna Brimo University of Gothenburg Department of Psychology
Keywords: selective mutism, anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorder, sensory integration


Selective mutism (SM) is a childhood anxiety disorder. Since anxiety is related to Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) the purpose of this study was to find out if sensory processing difficulties are present in children with SM. Clinical information was collected online from 147 caregivers and the data were complete for 122 subjects (ages 3-18). Short Sensory Profile (SSP) assessment was used to measure sensory reactivity in a group of children with SM. According to SSP definite sensory impairments were detected in 64 % of the children with SM, whereas probable sensory impairments were present in 24 % of the SM group. The highest rates of SPD were reported in three sections of SSP: taste/smell sensitivity, visual/auditory sensitivity and auditory filtering. Moreover, SPD was present at higher rate in children with SM compared to a group of typically developing children. The above findings suggest that a vast percentage of children with SM may be affected by SPD, regardless of other co-occurring diagnoses. This pioneering result has an implication for combining the existing SM therapy methods with Sensory Integration training (SI) and/or neuro-sensori-motor reflex integration techniques.

Author Biography

Katarzyna Brimo, University of Gothenburg Department of Psychology
Katarzyna Brimo is a graduate student at University of Gothenburg, Department of Psychology. She received Bachelor of Science in Psychology in January, 2017. Her biggest interest are neurodevelopmental disorders in children and their link to neuro-sensorimotor dysfunction. Katarzyna’s main area of studies is Selective Mutism (SM) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). She is also interested in nutrition, gut-brain connection and neuro-sensory integration therapy methods that integrate and re-pattern our primitive reflexes to improve neurologic function and open new pathways for cognitive, behavioral and physical development.
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