Selective mutism (SM), an anxiety disorder wherein children have difficulty speaking or communicating when they are uncomfortable, is relevant for the early childhood population as symptoms often manifest upon school entry (Steinhausen & Juzi, 1996) and early treatment leads to better treatment prognosis (Oerbeck, Stein, Wentzel-Larsen, Langsrud & Kristensen, 2014). Bergman, Gonzalez, Piacentini and Keller, (2013) utilized an integrative behavioral treatment for children (ages 4-8) with SM and reported a 75% treatment responder status after 24 weeks of therapy. Their mothers are the focus of this study. This exploratory study examined the content of Five Minute Speech Samples at baseline and end of treatment condition for 9 mothers whose children had participated in the randomized controlled trial. Via a content analysis of language samples, this study examined emergent themes and a priori codes of Expressed Emotion (a construct associated with a variety of disorders) and parental overcontrol (a construct associated with the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders). Results revealed five categories of content expressed by mothers: (a) child characteristics (b) child's activities, (c) relationships with others, (d) difficulties other than SM, and (e) thoughts related to SM. Analysis revealed mothers who had children with SM had higher levels of expressed emotion and emotional overinvolvement than samples of mothers of children without SM. The implication of this finding is unknown and is a direction for future research. Overcontrol was overtly present in one mother and subtle in other mothers. Levels of expressed emotion largely remained unchanged over the course of treatment. Overall, information garnered from giving mothers the five minutes speech sample provides insight for therapists to design intervention. Giving the mothers a chance to discuss their views and experiences with their children is valuable in determining the behavioral and emotional support they need as they parent their child with SM.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Education; Early Childhood
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Kovac, Lisa, "An Exploratory Analysis of a Five Minute Speech Sample of Mothers of Children with Selective Mutism" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5806.