5.1 The potential impact on children’s development
The presence of a mental health condition can impact on children’s development in a range of different ways. Anxiety can impact on children’s social development because they can find it difficult to feel confident in interacting with other people. It can also impact on their speech and language development to the extent that they can become selectively mute, meaning that they will not be able to speak in certain places (or to certain people), usually when at school, but may do so when at home or on their own with one other trusted person. Their inability to speak in certain situations is a result of severe anxiety, which can physically freeze them and lead to the tightening of their vocal cords, making speaking impossible.
Anxiety and ADHD (in particular when inattention is a major feature) can reduce a child’s ability to concentrate, which is likely to impact on a child’s educational attainment.