'an Invitation to speak', Shoreditch Town Hall, 1997
For someone with SM seemingly everyday events may be experienced as traumatic. Recent advances in understanding the neurobiological circuitry of anxiety have given reason to believe that human beings are hard-wired to be vigilant to danger. In some individuals the gating mechanisms for this circuitry are overly sensitive, so for these individuals, normal life events do trigger anxious responses in certain contexts. Low serotonin levels or genetics may inhibit verbal expression under high stress situations and may affect all forms of communication.
This suggests Selective Mutism should be considered more a neurological disorder than a psychiatric disorder, though living with untreated SM can contribute to chronic depression, further anxiety, and other social and emotional problems.
In addition, 'SM is a common comorbidity of Asperger Syndrome (Wolff, 1995; Gillberg, 1989; Andersson & Thomsen, 1998)'*. However, as much of the diagnostic criteria for Aspergers/Autism are male biased, girls and women are more likely to go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed with other conditions, unable to access the right support, or gain a perspective on their condition.
From conversations with others who have SM, and studies on SM - apologies if this does not credit certain studies/people.
*Results of recent research on Selective Mutism in adults by Carl Sutton (University of Chester), presenting data gathered from a large number of adult participants all of whom had first experienced the condition in childhood, will be published towards the end of 2013 on www.ispeak.org.uk.