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School anxiety/refusal

Aspergers children can find the school environment overwhelming and they sometimes refuse to attend. Their challenges in social understanding, sensory sensitivity, pragmatic language issues and anxiety contribute to issues with school attendance. There can be wide variation in causes and degrees of refusal. School refusal may happen for one day then become more frequent without professional Aspergers children can find the school environment overwhelming and they sometimes refuse to attend. 

Their challenges in social understanding, sensory sensitivity, pragmatic language issues and anxiety contribute to issues with school attendance. There can be wide variation in causes and degrees of refusal. School refusal may happen for one day then become more frequent without professional assessment and strategies created in partnership with your school to support their school engagement.


  • Research shows that early identification of warning signs is key to successful school refusal interventions. Look out for behaviour including:

  • Complaints about attending school;

  • Frequently feeling sick

  • Refuse to get out of bed

  • Frequent lateness;

  • Absences on significant days (assessments, oral presentations, physical education classes);

  • Poor teacher-student relationships;

  • Academic difficulties;

  • Social issues;

  • Frequent requests to go home;

  • Excessive worry about a parent when at school;

  • Physical aggression;

  • Panic symptoms, and;

  • Threats of self-harm.

Parents and teachers who notice these behaviours should record increased absences or patterns, and access support if these continue. A complete evaluation should be made by qualified professionals to determine whether the child has another psychological or physical disorder. 

It can be exhausting and frustrating for parents to deal with, but remember it is far worse for the student who feels such intense anxiety, fear and overwhelm about going to school. It is important to resolve the issues around school or the student they may develop on-going educational, emotional, and social problems.


Information specifically about Aspergers/ASD and school refusal is limited.

Top tips for Reintegration

The UK National Autistic Society

This organization has a webpage where they look at the reasons that could be behind this. They also suggest strategies to try at home and school to help students maintain school attendance or reintegrate them back into school.

In2School Program

Delivered in partnership with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, the Royal Children’s Hospital Mental Health and Travancore School, a mental health-focused special school in Melbourne’s north-west, the students aged between 11 and 14 have been school refusing for between three months and two years and have diagnoses of anxiety and/or mood disorders.

Cool 2b@School

Cool 2b@School works with the young person, parents, families and the school to develop an understanding of the causes of school refusal and to support the young person’s return to school. The program aims at early intervention, so families and schools are encouraged to contact us as soon as a problem is noticed. The program also provides professional consultancy to schools aimed at supporting students, parents and the school staff.


The Navigator program works to support disengaged young people to return to education and learning.

Navigator works with young people, their families and support networks to address issues underlying disengagement and help them re-engage with their education.

It is delivered by community agencies, who work closely with local schools and school area teams. Services are being piloted across eight Department areas, each tailored to its local community. More at :

Bayside School Refusal Clinic Melbourne

This clinic uses a social worker model to help to resolve any underlying issues that are making school attendance difficult for your child. Our approach includes advocacy & liaison with your school, which helps to negotiate the perfect 'back to school plan'.

The Quirky Kid Clinic

Child, Adolescent and Family Psychology Clinic based in Sydney and Wollongong


The AYCE (Access Yea Community Education) Program

The AYCE (Access Yea Community Education) Program aims at providing education for students who, for a wide variety of reasons, are not enrolled at a school. In 1999 the school ran a pilot program and, in practice, the program attracted mainly students who had been, up until that time, home educated.

Currajong School

Currajong School is a non-denominational, co-educational school with classes from Prep to Year 8 with small class numbers. The criteria for enrolment are social, emotional and behavioural disorders, and the length of placement is three years (longer if required). There should be positive indicators of children’s potential and ability to sustain changes made and to reintegrate into mainstream education following placement at Currajong.

Alia College

Alia College is a small, not-for-profit, independent, secondary school. The college has a mainstream academic focus aiming for the best possible tertiary entrance score along with a style that is variously described as holistic and/or community and/or democratic and/or family-like.

The Pavillion School (Mill Park)

This is a state secondary school for students who have disengaged or been excluded from school. It aims to re-engage young people by providing relevant and individually tailored education programs.

Berengarra School (Box Hill)

Berengarra is a non-profit co-educational secondary school that meets the individual needs of students of normal intelligence but with social and emotional problems. Their program is based on a model that incorporates cognitive behaviour, narrative, and solution-focused therapies. The school is a loop out of the mainstream system and students generally stay for between six months and two years.

Monash University School Refusal Program referrals and resources

This program is no longer taking applications but offers the following information:

Home Schooling resources:


School phobia/school refusal Australia - closed group you can join for support and information. They also run a face to face peer support group which AV has been supporting.

Overcoming school refusal


Booklet excerpt about school refusal:

The Age:

Other Links:

Beth Bodycote is studying this and her website is at plus she has a FB page

Help for anxiety disorders:

Please also see our Aspergers Victoria  Professional Directory - Tutors page as well as our Teen Group details on our Groups pageMany kids with school exclusion attend our groups and appreciate understanding peers and social time.

Source of image :

Whilst the Information contained in our Information sheets has been collated and presented by peers, we are not professionals and Aspergers Victoria does not warrant or represent that the Information is free from errors or omission. Changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this Information. The Information may change without notice and AV is not in any way liable for the accuracy of any information printed and stored or in any way interpreted and used by a user. The information is not intended to be, and should not be relied upon as, the ultimate and complete source of information on any particular topic. AV does not accept liability however arising, including liability for negligence, for any loss resulting from the use of or reliance upon the information and/or reliance on its availability at any time.Please seek medical advice prior to commencing any action or course of treatment.

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