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  • Writer's pictureTeacher Brett

What to do when a student elopes?

Eloping, or running away or leaving a supervised area without permission, can be a serious concern for students, particularly those with developmental delays or disabilities. If a student elopes, it's important to take the following steps:

  1. Stay calm: This can be difficult, but it's important to try to remain calm and composed. Losing your temper or becoming agitated may only make the situation worse.

  2. Search for the student: If you know where the student is likely to go, start looking there. If you don't have a good idea of where the student might be, it may be helpful to ask other students or staff members if they have seen the student.

  3. Call for help: If you are unable to find the student within a few minutes, it's important to call for help. Contact the school administration, local law enforcement, and/or the student's parent or guardian as soon as possible.

  4. Develop a plan: Once the student has been found, it's important to develop a plan to prevent future elopement. This may involve identifying and addressing any underlying causes of the behavior, such as anxiety or a desire for attention, as well as implementing strategies like supervising the student more closely or providing more structure and routine.

  5. Follow up: After an elopement incident, it's important to follow up with the student, the student's parents or guardians, and other relevant staff members to discuss the incident and the steps that will be taken to prevent future elopement. It may also be helpful to involve the student in developing a plan to prevent future elopement.

Developing a Plan:

Here are some steps you can follow to develop a plan for a student who has been eloping:

Assess the situation: It's important to understand why the student is eloping. Talk to the student, the student's parents or guardians, and other relevant staff members to gather as much information as possible about the student's behavior. You may also want to consider consulting with a school psychologist or other mental health professional to assess the student's needs.

Identify triggers: Try to identify any triggers that may be contributing to the elopement behavior. For example, is the student more likely to elope when they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed?

Implement strategies: Based on the assessment and information gathered, develop a plan to address the elopement behavior. Some strategies you may want to consider include:

  • Providing more structure and routine

  • Supervising the student more closely

  • Using visual supports to help the student understand and follow expectations

  • Teaching the student coping skills to manage anxiety or other emotions

  • Modifying the environment to make it safer and more secure

Monitor progress: It's important to regularly monitor the student's progress and adjust the plan as needed. You may want to consider using a behavior-tracking system to help you monitor the student's behavior and the effectiveness of the interventions you are using.

Involve the student: Involve the student in developing and implementing the plan as much as possible. This can help the student feel more invested in the process and may increase the chances of success.

Collaborate with others: Work with the student's parents or guardians, as well as other relevant staff members, to ensure that the plan is being implemented consistently across settings. It may also be helpful to involve the student's therapist or other mental health professionals in the process.

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