The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety Awards Grant to the Selective Mutism Group

The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety (AKFSA) has selected The Selective Mutism Group (SMG) as one of its 2015 grant recipients. AKFSA grants provide support to organizations focused on educational and outreach initiatives improving knowledge about and the treatment of social anxiety disorder.

With grant support from AKFSA, SMG will create a cutting-edge, interactive training course in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for professionals treating anxiety disorders, in particular those relating to Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety. This training course will be available nationally to allow professionals across the country access to intensive training and ongoing supervision. The goal is to increase the number of professionals proficient in this gold standard behavioral treatment, thereby increasing the number of families served effectively.

“Grants to organizations, like The Selective Mutism Group, that share the Foundation’s national mission will lead directly to work that improves the lives of sufferers from social anxiety and builds awareness among those who have the opportunity to treat this disorder,” said Lori Blumenstein-Bott, MSW, Executive Director of AKFSA.

SMG is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information, resources and support to those impacted by a child with the anxiety disorder known as Selective Mutism. Selective mutism, formerly called elective mutism, is best understood as a childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child or adolescent’s inability to speak in one or more social settings (e.g., at school, in public places, with adults) despite being able to speak comfortably in other settings (e.g., at home with family). It is estimated that as many as 90 percent of children with selective mutism have social anxiety.

Social Anxiety is characterized by extreme anxiety about being judged by others or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment, shame, humiliation or ridicule. Social situations provoke anxiety or distress resulting in crippling fear that can interfere significantly with daily activities and functioning. The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. Children and teens may be diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder.

People with Social Anxiety Disorder often report feeling alone, misunderstood and misdiagnosed, causing their personal relationships to suffer. Individuals often try to isolate themselves from their friends and family. They’re uncomfortable talking about their disorder, afraid others will not take them seriously. An estimated 15 million American adults experience these symptoms.

The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety’s mission is to educate social anxiety sufferers, mental health professionals, physicians, teachers, coaches, clergy, friends, family and the general public about the diagnosis and treatment of social anxiety.

For more information about SMG, visit www.selectivemutism.org.

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