104: “Selective Mutism Is Not a Choice” – A Conversation with Mom and Globetrotter Sabrina Rizk

What if your child, while perfectly capable of speech, simply can’t speak in certain situations, like at preschool, school or daycare?

That’s the situation that Sabrina Rizk and her husband, Anthony, found themselves with their now-nine-year-old daughter Hannah was entering preschool.

My conversation with Sabrina starts off in another really cool direction: we get to talk about the round-the-world trip Sabrina, her husband, and their two daughters took during the 2015 academic year!

Sabrina shares about the trip, how Hannah and younger sister Amy adapted to the traveling, and how Anthony got a six-month leave of absence from his software development job for the trip.

Sabrina kept a blog – and is writing a book series for children – about their trip; visit weturnedoutokay.com/104 for podcast notes about selective mutism and traveling around the world, links to the book series and Sabrina’s blog, and to listen!

Kids with selective mutism can talk. But in certain situations, they become too anxious to effectively get any words out.

Sabrina tells that selective mutism affects about the same amount of children as does autism – but selective mutism is less well-known. Less is known what to do about it as well.

Over my near-decade teaching in a public preschool program, I worked with 3 selectively-mute children, and over time learned how to draw them out (hint: a safe, comforting, and joyful classroom which included the chance to be one of the Three Billy Goats Gruff in our dramatic play area worked wonders 🙂

Sabrina shares the process she and her family went through in order to be able to travel around the world together while the kids were still young, long before retirement: she says it helps that her husband’s company has a “forward-looking employee retention policy.”

Sabrina gives great advice for both traveling with young children – and for confronting a special need in a child.

I hope our conversation helps you, whether you’re planning a trip or learning to deal with a special need!

Key Links:

After today’s conversation, Sabrina shared that the first book in her series of children’s books about her family’s trip around the world is coming out soon! Click here to read about the series on Facebook 🙂

Sabrina’s lovely and fun blog, natureadventurersblog.com, is a great read and will inspire you in planning your own trip around the world.