• Michelle Valdivieso

    21 July 2021 at 1 h 49 min

    Hi Amanda,

    Thank you for the additional information.

    Sounds like this student’s motivation for school refusal is reactive, meaning they find something in the environment threatening, uncomfortable, or aversive. Interventions and supports should enhance positive motivation for attending school. Is there anything this student finds pleasurable, nonthreatening, and/or motivating when they do attend school? Is there are way to help the student explore ways to add activities that would be nonthreatening and motivating so they decrease the incidents of refusal or elopement?

    Has a formal Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) been completed? You want to create an intervention support plan to address the function of the behavior, eliminate the reinforcement derived for school refusal behavior, and to enhance skills necessary for anxiety management and problem solving. Examples of intervention support may include modeling, role playing, cognitive restructuring, and exposure-based practices to reduce anxiety during evaluative situations and to refine social and performance skills. In addition, contingency contracts can be designed between the student and parents to increase appropriate incentives for school attendance as well as disincentives for absenteeism. You can also incorporate daily report cards or home-school notes to monitor progress and promote home school collaboration.

    Does the student have a peer support system in the classroom or on campus? Can you set him up with peer partners to greet them and provide peer support throughout the day? This will help establish social reinforcement for attending. Are there school supports in place for LGBTQ youth?

    For the mental health
    aspect of the behavior, can the student access counseling support at school
    with the psych or school counselor to work on the mental health side of the
    problem? In counseling the student and specialist can work on CBT activities to
    reframe stressful and aversive thoughts about school, promote positive
    self-talk, use mindfulness and other anxiety reducing techniques, and systematic
    desensitization strategies. This is more of tier 3 SEL support since I would
    likely work 1:1 with the student. If this student is not at the level of tier 3
    counseling support, perhaps there is a Tier 2 group that focuses on anxiety and
    fear they can participate in. Or if the
    issue is social anxiety, perhaps there is a social skills group they can

    There is an article by NASP on school refusal. Its titled School Refusal: Information for Educators. I would attach it here, but I don’t think the attachment feature exists. If you google NASP school refusal it pops up as a downloadable PDF.

    I hope this information is useful. School refusal is hard and takes time and consistent implementation of supports.