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Question: I am having difficulty getting my 15 year old son to go to school. When the bus comes, he refuses to go to the bus and the bus only waits a minute. When I drive him to school, he refuses to exit the vehicle even for favorite items. I have also used a storyboard that the school produced for me. Any suggestions? 

Answer contributed by Carrissa Rondeau, BCBA, MSW, Behavior Consultant, AAoM

Thank you for your question. From the information provided it sounds like the school is ​making an effort to help with this situation. A few ideas ​that may or may not have been attempted yet:

  • Prior to the bus coming to your home ​- ​decrease ‘fun activities’ in the home, talk about ​the positives associated with school​, and review positive events or activities that he will be participating in that day
  • If possible set up a reinforcement system that he receives at school upon successful ‘getting on the bus’ or ‘getting out of your car’ behavior​. Set the criteria regarding this with the school and ensure there is a way to communicate if he has earned the ‘motivator’. Something fun- that is only available at school and only occurs on days when the transition goes well.
  • You mention that he refuses to leave the vehicle for favorite items- ensure these items are only available at school (at no other time), immediately available upon entering the school and are ‘potent enough’ to be used to off set the non preferred action/activity of arriving to school.
  • Another option would be to see what his first class of the day is at school. Maybe this can be changed around so that there is something more enticing occurring at the start of the school day.

Thank you for taking the time to reach out. We hope some of the above ideas help to reduce this problem for you, your son, and the school.

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