Certain people and situations can become contaminated. Say, for example, you never talked around Russell. If Russell is in the room, you don’t talk. But at home you talk to your mom and dad freely. What happens if Russell unexpectedly shows up at home?

Mom, dad, and Russell are all in the living room talking, and mom asks you a question. You may become silent, maybe just non-verbal. Then Russell goes into the kitchen for a soda. Now you can answer her question out loud, but not loud enough for Russell to hear.

In this case, home would be a safe haven, where you can talk how you want. When Russell shows up, it feels like an invasion.

If you have a child with selective mutism, it might be a good idea to talk to him/her about visitors beforehand so they aren’t surprised as well as anxious. If you are the kid and you want to talk to Russell, one thing you could do, is use mom and dad as a medium through which you can communicate to him, i.e. whispering in their ear, then them relaying the message.

It’s easy to get stuck only whispering. Whispering to mom and dad is only a step in the larger picture. One example of the steps you could take:

1. Whisper a notch louder to the parents each time until it is audible.
2. Whisper without the parental intermediary.
3. Whisper a bit louder without mom or dad a notch louder each time.

However, you might think Russell is mildly incompetent at his job as a psychologist, and you don’t want to talk to him. And that’s okay. Just try again with someone else.