1. Prepare and plan for your outing. Individuals with anxiety do best with predictability where there are few surprises. Discuss where and what you will be doing.
  2. Go during “off” times. Visit these types of settings when there are less people and less chaos. This is often at the opening and closing times. Then gradually adjust the time.
  3. Bring a friend or a sibling. Those with Selective Mutism do best when they are not the primary focus of attention.
  4. Sit on the outskirts of the crowds rather than in the middle of the crowd.
  5. Educate to select individuals who try to force speech and communication. Ideally, call and discuss the matter via phone or in person when your loved one with Selective Mutism is not present. Avoid this person if he/she continues and also make your loved one aware that the person does not understand.
  6. Be aware of toileting challenges.  Locate a single restroom rather than a multi-stalled restroom. This may mean parents need speak to manager on duty for special privileges. For those who fear the loud noises of the toilet flushing, go in and “flush, flush, and flush again.” Desensitizing works wonders! Sometimes wearing headphones helps, too.
  7. Props work wonders. Such as toys, floats, and games are ideal for distracting.
  8. Be aware of sensory challengesSensory challenges are often in the form of defensive behaviors where the individual will shut down, avoid, and become minimally engaging and communicative. Awareness to noise, overwhelming sights, and overcrowded situations is even more critical for our sensory-sensitive loved ones.
  9. Adult facilitation may be needed. Often, parents and others expect an individual with Selective Mutism to engage and participate. For many with SM, they need help with engaging and comfort building. Lead games or activities, asking choice/direct questions, to help the person improve in the social communication opportunities.
  10. Implementation of social communication strategies based on the individual’s baseline level of social communication. Stage 0 to Stage 1: The simple strategy of Frontline™ and Handover/Takeover™ (Taking towels or other items from pool staff, providing money to waiter at snack bar, etc.); Stage 1 to Stage 2: Using the parents or siblings or buddies as Verbal Intermediaries® when asking for the correct number of towels, providing a name upon admission to the park, or asking for a soda at the snack bar; Stage 2 to Stage 3: Reading pre-planned scripts as the individual is entering into the Verbal stage.

To effectively overcome Selective Mutism and all anxieties, an individual needs to be involved in a treatment program, such as CommuniCamp™ Intensive Group Treatment and Individual Intensive Treatment which employ the evidenced-based Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®). Developed by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum, this holistic or “whole-person” treatment approach is designed to reduce anxiety, build self-esteem, increase social comfort and communication in all settings.