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21-11-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 4/2018

Child Psychiatry & Human Development 4/2018

Latent Class Symptom Profiles of Selective Mutism: Identification and Linkage to Temperamental and Social Constructs

Child Psychiatry & Human Development > Uitgave 4/2018
Rachele Diliberto, Christopher A. Kearney


Selective mutism (SM) is a stable, debilitating psychiatric disorder in which a child fails to speak in most public situations. Considerable debate exists as to the typology of this population, with empirically-based studies pointing to possible dimensions of anxiety, oppositionality, and communication problems, among other aspects. Little work has juxtaposed identified symptom profiles with key temperamental and social constructs often implicated in SM. The present study examined a large, diverse, non-clinical, international sample of children aged 6–10 years with SM to empirically identify symptom profiles and to link these profiles to key aspects of temperament (i.e., emotionality, shyness, sociability, activity) and social functioning (i.e., social problems, social competence). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis revealed anxiety/distress, oppositionality, and inattention domains. In addition, latent class analysis revealed nuanced profiles labeled as (1) moderately anxious, oppositional, and inattentive, (2) highly anxious, and moderately oppositional and inattentive, and (3) mildly to moderately anxious, and mildly oppositional and inattentive. Class 2 was the most impaired group and was associated with greater emotionality, shyness, and social problems. Class 3 was the least impaired group and was associated with better sociability and social competence and activity. Class 1 was largely between the other classes, demonstrating less shyness and social problems than Class 2. The results help confirm previous findings of anxiety and oppositional profiles among children with SM but that nuanced classes may indicate subtle variations in impairment. The results have implications not only for subtyping this population but also for refining assessment and case conceptualization strategies and pursuing personalized and perhaps less lengthy treatment.

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