49. School Refusal and Strategies to Overcome

podcast Aug 12, 2021

Many children with autism find the demands of school and the school environment almost unbearable which leads to “school avoidance or refusal”. This is when a child gets very upset about going to school and won’t or can’t go. This isn’t a clinical diagnosis; it is simply a name for an emotional and/or behavioral problem.

As our child’s parent, we have a legal obligation to educate our children, which means they must be enrolled in an educational setting and attending regularly. We all know that in 2021 we have many options to educate our children from homeschooling to private school, online school, or public school. Whichever you choose is completely your decision, but you are obligated to ensure they are getting an education.

Working as a team with your child’s school is the best way to help with school refusal.

Some of the common reasons for increased stress and anxiety at school might be, transition times when it is noisy and the halls are crowded and loud, unstructured times of the day like lunch, conflict with peers, teasing, or bullying.  Often because of their social deficits, they struggle with the social aspect of school the most. They have difficulties understanding and reading social cues like facial expressions or body language, or they don’t get sarcasm.

There may be strategies and accommodations that could be implemented at school.  They may need to have accommodations added to their IEP like extra breaks or being allowed to transition ahead of the other students to avoid the crowds between classes. Remember, ASK for what you think they might need.