Muteness

Muteness and sign language

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

There are many causes related to muteness. The main causes of muteness in adults, however, are neurological damage and/or dysfunction of the speech muscles. Patients of Alzeihmer’s , Parkinson’s, and meningitis and those who have experienced trauma/injury in the head or neck area are likely to suffer from muteness. In children, muteness is often due to psychological reasons and is termed as selective muteness
An individual who is born with physical deformities in the vocal cords and/or has congenital deafness is born mute. Genetic factors play an important here. If a child has at least one parent with congenital vocal cord dysfunction, he/she is more likely to be born mute. However, if one of the parents acquired muteness owing to some injury or illness, the trait of muteness is not passed on.
Anything which restricts a person’s movements, senses, or activities is a disability. Since muteness is a severe restriction of sensory output, it is categorized as a disability. It handicaps a person’s ability to follow daily routine normally. People with speech disorders are, therefore, liable to obtain special benefits from regulatory bodies.
It is not necessary that the conditions of muteness and deafness will always co-exist. People who are deaf by birth, and hence mute since they cannot sense auditory signals that will help them build vocal ability, are the ones in which deafness and muteness occur together. However, people who become mute because of injury or illness retain their sense of hearing.

What is muteness?

Muteness or Mutism is medically defined as a speech affliction wherein the patient is unable to have the normal capacity to speak resulting in the complete absence or at least a significant loss of verbal communication and is charted under both psychiatric and neurological diseases. Rarely occurring as an isolated disorder, it is often prevalent in association with other ailments pertaining to cognitive abilities, disturbances in behavior or a related physiological disorder. Owing to its widespread existence and a host of causal factor triggering it, an effective understanding of this disability involves an in-depth study of the underlying neurological and psychological issues that form the basis of mutism.

How can Mutism be categorized?

Muteness and sign languageMutism can be broadly categorized in terms of the type of factors that incite it in patients namely – Neurologically based and psychologically based.

Neurologically based mutism: The type of mutism which is caused by physical impairment of brain or speech motor system due to a multitude of reasons including birth defects, accidents, head or neck injuries, strokes or Parkinson’s Disease.  A bilateral damage to the frontal lobe of the brain which renders the patient unable to move the Akinesia causes the Akinetic Mutism. Here, along with speech, other abilities such as motor control, arousal etc is also similarly impaired.

Another related type of mutism is prevalent in autistic children, where the child faces immense difficulty in developing normal speech patterns due to delayed development of social skills. There also exists Dyslalialic Mutism or muteness caused by deafness where damage to the larynx damages the vocal chords or in general, since the patient is not able to hear words he/she is unable to produce matching sounds to communicate.  For communicating with such patients, sign language is necessary.

Psychologically Based Mutism: The major kind of such mutism is medically termed as Selective Mutism, wherein there is a consistent failure to speak in specific social situations , often triggered by anxiety and presenting itself mostly in professional/educational / social advancement and the continuation of the behavior is more than a month. This is a direct result of an over-excited Amygdala (the fear-detecting centre of the brain) which determines the fight or flight mode of human beings.

Certain social gatherings , especially for a child 3 years who has just learnt speaking  and is entering into a new arena of school, can initiate such mutism. The biggest indicator of selective mutism, which mostly affect children, is that the lack of speech is not due to lack of knowledge or comfort with the spoken language. Children suffering from selective mutism are often additionally characterized with anxiety disorder, social phobia, excessive shyness, fear of social embarrassment and social isolation.

In older patients it is mostly caused by a traumatic event that has resulted in severe mental alterations within the patients.

How does mutism  affect people?

Muteness in childrenA consistent and unexplained fear of communication with others can have debilitating effects on a human being, irrespective of the age. Not only it discourages a healthy mental and social development, the underlying anxiety and associated fears show in the person’s academic and professional performance. They often avoid active participation in activities because that would yield in others focussing their attention on the patient and would most possibly include the patient talking.

Since they are eternally clouded with the fear of being the centre of attraction or in general making mistakes and being noticed, a substantial amount of effort is spent in avoiding such gatherings in general. This in turn gives people an impression that the patient is anti-social and is just segregated from the normal crowd. Growing up in such a tormenting environment, where  every step is pre-calculated owing to unknown fears , snatches away the opportunity from the child of a happy , healthy and normal childhood.

Mutism in adults

While selective mutism is often more widespread in children, it is not uncommon in adults too. Often confused with depression or permanent vegetative state, this ailment needs to be addressed as the neuro-psychological disorder it is and treated before it takes up more severe forms such as Alzheimer’s disease or Jacob-Creutzfeldt disease. Just as in the younger population, the adult mutism patients get panicked too easily when asked to speak. If left untreated in the childhood, selective mutism can manifest itself more significantly in the adulthood causing severely strained emotional bonding with others.

Researches show that the show of selective mutism is sometimes not only caused by the mute person, but also heavily depends upon the expectations of others from the patient to speak and socialize normally in gatherings. This makes the patient feel even more isolated and disconnected with his/her peers, plunging him/her deeper into the solitude.

Treatment & Prevention

Since a majority of cases of mutism are elicited by anxiety disorders , the requisite treatment protocol often focuses on the patient’s mental well-being and thus most of times involves an active participation by the patient’s family members and close friends. To diagnose the symptoms of selective mutism in children Speech –Language Pathologists along with paediatrician and psychiatrist are consulted who work in cohesion with the school and the parents to address the actual underlying issue culminating the speech disability.

The behavioural treatment program, often includes talking with the child in a relaxed manner and atmosphere pertaining to his/her comfort level, using physical gestures while talking to the child, and also having the watch his/her own video to instil confidence in him/her.  Addressing the anxiety disorder and inner esteem issues can be fruitfully used to pinpoint the cause of the selective mutism.

CBT or Cognitive Behavior Treatment is also a powerful contraption used to address and treat hidden anxiety disorders. This includes helping the patient focus on his/her perception about the world and gradually target least-anxiety causing situations to ease the way in of the patient into the therapy. Anti-depressants might be given , but to older children and adults along with the long term treatment to provide a holistic and permanent  freedom from the disability.

There are many causes related to muteness. The main causes of muteness in adults, however, are neurological damage and/or dysfunction of the speech muscles. Patients of Alzeihmer’s , Parkinson’s, and meningitis and those who have experienced trauma/injury in the head or neck area are likely to suffer from muteness. In children, muteness is often due to psychological reasons and is termed as selective muteness
An individual who is born with physical deformities in the vocal cords and/or has congenital deafness is born mute. Genetic factors play an important here. If a child has at least one parent with congenital vocal cord dysfunction, he/she is more likely to be born mute. However, if one of the parents acquired muteness owing to some injury or illness, the trait of muteness is not passed on.
Anything which restricts a person’s movements, senses, or activities is a disability. Since muteness is a severe restriction of sensory output, it is categorized as a disability. It handicaps a person’s ability to follow daily routine normally. People with speech disorders are, therefore, liable to obtain special benefits from regulatory bodies.
It is not necessary that the conditions of muteness and deafness will always co-exist. People who are deaf by birth, and hence mute since they cannot sense auditory signals that will help them build vocal ability, are the ones in which deafness and muteness occur together. However, people who become mute because of injury or illness retain their sense of hearing.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • One should consult a speech therapist or a psychiatrist if the pattern of muteness exists for more than a month.
  • Play therapy, family therapy, and even psychoanalytical therapy are shown desired results in treatment.
  • Always get down the person’s level and have a proper face-to-face conversation, even if he/she doesn’t respond back. Maintain good amount of eye contact.
  • Always listen to them and positively encourage them.
Don'ts
  • Employ a forceful or pressured approach in dealing with this condition.
  • Push individuals to talk by aggressively interrogating them.
  • Bribe the individual for speaking up.
  • Confuse it with wilful or stubborn behaviour. You cannot discipline someone with muteness (or selective muteness) into speaking.

 

 

 

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Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
smelling-salts-benefits
The actual science behind smelling salts and how it helps in injury recovery Most smelling salts are a mixture of ammonium carbonate and some perfumes which are sniffed by an individual…
hsv igg test
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG is used to detect the presence of the herpes virus so that the…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
anti ds dna test
Anti Ds-DNA antibody Test The  Anti Ds-DNA antibody test is used to diagnose the disease called lupus or more aptly the SLE(Systematic…
piles
Best treatment for piles in Bangalore All you need to know about piles and piles treatment in Bangalore - the types of treatment available,…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
Echocardiogram
Echocardiography – ECHO Echocardiography (commonly known as ECHO) is an imaging modality (similar to ultrasonography) used to visualize the interior of…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
biopsy procedure
Biopsy Biopsy is a procedure of studying a live tissue sample collected from a specific organ for diagnosing a…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Did you know drinking alkaline water could be the healthier choice for you? Ever wondered how safe is your drinking water in terms of pH? Recent studies have revealed that Alkaline…
angiography
Angiography Angiography is a diagnostic tool used to determine the narrowing or blockage in the arteries and veins supplying…
ketoacidosis diabetes
HB1Ac Test HB1Ac test is an important blood test that is used to measure the levels of glycated hemoglobin in…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
labiaplasty
Labiaplasty Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to modify the labia minora and the labia majora. Learn about who can…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Oil of Oregano: The one-stop essential oil you’ve been looking for Are you plagued by a weak immune system? High body inflammation accompanied by pain and infections? Why not…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
Infertility man
Infertility profile (men) The group of tests that for a part of the infertility profile testing for men includes a range…
Period sanitary napkin-menstruaion-blood-colors
Period blood – what it says about your health Your period blood color and consistency indicate what is happening in your body. Is your blood bright red…
CERULOPLASMIN- triple marker
Triple Marker Test A triple marker test is an important prenatal test that is performed to detect the presence of chromosomal…
Bloodtestalbumin
Albumin Test Albumin test or blood serum test is a liver function test that measures the amount of the protein…
Hibiscus: Nourish your beauty and health with these vibrant blooms Hibiscus is a trumpet shaped flower found abundantly in tropical countries. It has been historically used for its…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
Experts reveal the safest ways to perform an enema at home The idea of pushing some up your rectal area might make you queasy but an enema could actually…
complement c4 test
Complement 4 (C4) Test The Complement 4 or C4 test measures the level of the protein in the bloodstream, and is primarily…
Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
cystoscopy
Cystoscopy Cystoscopy is a procedure to check the health of the urethra and the bladder. The procedure is also…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
Miracle extract from the root of maca: 10 ways it can help you! Maca root has been used for years in herbal medicine. Today scientific research is unearthing fresh evidence in…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
Spinach: The ultimate way to boost health with this green superfood! Spinach is a green superfood that ranks high in both taste and nutrition. Read more to discover how…
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
Ca 19.9 test
CA19.9 Test CA 19.9 is a cancer antigen that exists on the surface of cancer-causing cells. The levels of CA…
kshar sutra
Kshar sutra treatment for piles, fissures and fistula Read to know the benefits and side effects of kshar sutra to treat anal piles, fissures, and fistula…
deep vein thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis Deep vein thrombosis or DVT occurs when blood clots form in the deep veins of the body, mainly…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
creatinine
Creatinine Test The level of creatinine in the blood is a significant indicator of the health of your kidneys. This…
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…

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