Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by tics; involuntary, rapid, sudden movements or vocalizations that occur repeatedly in the same way. Diagnostic criteria include: both multiple motor and one or more vocal tics present at some time, although not necessarily simultaneously, the occurrence of tics many times a day (usually in bouts) nearly everyday or intermittently throughout the span of more than one year; period changes in the number, frequently, type and location of the tics, and in the waxing and waning of their severity. Symptoms can sometimes disappear for weeks and or months at a time; and the onset is before the age of 18.
According to the Tourette syndrome Association there are not many schools in the nation that are familiar with Tourette syndrome. However, even though they remain few in number, more schools and educators are becoming familiar with Tourette Syndrome and are willing to provide the special care and attention that TS children need to enhance their learning ability and ease the emotional stress they often experience during school. Tourette Syndrome is something that should be researched and discussed in every school. No child should be turned away because they have different learning abilities.
There is a number of challenges teachers face while teaching students with TS. For example, establishing the proper learning environment. It is important for teachers to know that many of the children with TS might have some kind of learning problem and might need individual attention. Teachers may consider using tape recorders, typewriters, or computers for reading and writing problems. Exams should not be timed and should take place in a private room if vocal tics are a problem and the students should be given permission to leave the room when tics become overwhelming.
Accommodations for writing problems, many children with TS also have visual-motor integration problems. They may come across with difficulties when having to copy information from the board, completing long assignments, neatness of written work, and when given a specific time to finish an assignment. Sometimes it appears as though the student is lazy or avoiding work, but in reality the effort to record the work on paper may be overwhelming.
Accommodations for language problems, it is helpful for the children to have pictures and graphs when given written directions. The assignments should have instructions and the teacher should give the child the opportunity to read the directions out loud and make sure he/she understands it. Children with TS may repeat their own words or those of someone else. This may sound like stuttering but it actually involves the utterance or words or whole phrases. Other students may exploit this problem by whispering inappropriate things so that the child with TS will involuntarily repeat them and get into trouble. Be alert to this provocation.
Accommodations for attention problems; seat the child in front of the teacher for all instruction and directions to minimize the visual distraction of classmates. Also the child should be seated away from windows, doors, or other sources of distraction, with the exception of when they are meeting in reading groups. Every child should have a quiet workplace where he/she could concentrate and accomplish its work. In addition, teachers should have the student work in short intense periods with breaks to run an errand or simply wiggle in the seat and change tasks frequently. As a teacher it is important to be creative even if it means to contract for work to be done in advance. With younger children, simple gestures, such as a hand on the student?s shoulder, can be a helpful reminder to focus during listening periods.

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