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Muteness is a speech disorder in which a person lacks the power of articulate speech. In the UK, the term for muteness is "dumbness", but, due to the influence of American English, using the word "dumb" to refer to mute person can cause offense. The term "speech-impaired" is now preferred; however, much as "visually impaired" does not necessarily mean that a person is blind, someone who is speech impaired may not be mute. Selective mutism is a DSM-IV diagnosis that refers to an anxiety disorder in which people are unable to speak in situations causing social anxiety, but are fluent in speech in more comfortable situations. Other people may choose to become avowedly mute. This is usually, but not always, for religious reasons.
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