Selective mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s lack of verbal communication in select social environments, such as school. Children with selective mutism possess the ability to speak, but are selective of the settings in which they choose to speak. They will often speak in environments where they feel safe, relaxed, and calm with familiar people such as parents or siblings, but will choose not to speak in environments where they are less comfortable. A common misconception is that selective mutism is a form of autism. Children with selective mutism may demonstrate lack of appropriate social language use that mimics those on the autism spectrum, but selective mutism is not indicative of autism.
A cleft is any opening in a normally closed structure. A cleft lip is an opening in the lip, typically the upper lip. These clefts are more commonly unilateral (on one side of the lip) as compared to bilateral (on both sides of the lip). Unilateral clefts occur more frequently on the left side of the mouth. A cleft palate is an opening on the roof of the mouth. Clefts can be found in the hard palate (towards the front of the mouth), soft palate (more towards the back of the mouth) or both.