Not Attending Classes
Even when supports are in place, some students with ASD can find high school overwhelming. These students might stop attending some classes or they might not attend school at all. Recognizing early warning signs and having a plan in place can help you be proactive when planning supports for students at high risk of dropping out.
In this section, we present you with a list of early warning signs, questions that you can ask when requesting support, and external resources for further investigation. At the end of this section, you will find a printable version of these questions which you can use when meeting with school officials.
Several common warning signs can help you determine if a student with ASD is at risk for dropping out of school. The following signs include:
- the student’s behaviour changes at school or at home
- the student becomes socially withdrawn at school or at home
- the student talks about not wanting to go to school anymore
- the student asks to come home in the middle of the school day
- the student is not doing homework in their usual manner
- the student starts missing some classes or some days of school
- the student does not want to get out of bed in the morning
- the student stops participating in extracurricular activities
Any changes or uncharacteristic behaviours can indicate that a student might be struggling with school attendance. If this happens, try to identify the underlying reasons for the change and work with the school to provide the appropriate supports.
Questions to ask if school refusal is becoming a concern
- What alternatives can be put in place if attending school daily becomes too overwhelming?
- Is there a school social worker?
- If so, what role does he/she play?
- How do we access the school social worker?
- Is there a mental health nurse?
- If so, how do we set up an appointment?
- How do we access the mental health nurse?
- What is the role of the “monitor teacher”?
- What is the role of the attendance counsellor?
- During the school day, where can students go when they are too anxious or overwhelmed to attend class?
- What school staff can help when students are feeling too anxious or overwhelmed to go to class? What is the process for connecting with this person?
- What is school’s role in helping the student get back to school after missing several classes?
- What is the school’s role in helping parents get their student to school?
- How can parents speak with other parents whose student with ASD is not attending high school?
- What are other supports at the school board that parents and students can access?
- Which community agencies will accompany a parent to a school meeting?
- What community agencies can help us look for community supports?
- If we are not receiving the help we need from our school who should we contact at the school board?
Questions to ask if school attendance has completely stopped
- What is the school’s role in helping students get back to school when they stop attending?
- What is the school’s role in helping students complete high school outside of class?
- What are the alternatives for completing school credits when attending class is no longer possible?
- What community programs can help students who are unable to attend high school classes?
- If we are not receiving the help we need from my school, who should we contact at the school board?