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how to help a Tourettes child in primary.

(18 Posts)
wakeupandsmellthecoffee Thu 10-Jan-13 09:17:06

Basically there is a new child joining the school with Tourette's and I was hoping for advice with how to help. I do not know enough about this condition . I thought it best to ask the people who really know what would help the child the most.
At the moment he is at the ticks stage and just a little bit of calling out. So is there anything that can be done to make the child less stressed and happy.
Not to try and stop the Tourette's behaviour but just to make his life easier.
If anyone has any advice at all it will be gratefully received.

zzzzz Thu 10-Jan-13 11:26:54

Be aware of what a tic looks like. Ask parents, they are best placed to tell you but sniffing and throat clearing can be difficult. Make sure all staff are aware. Teach children how to behave don't just expect them to know.

PolterGoose Thu 10-Jan-13 12:00:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Thu 10-Jan-13 12:36:50

Yes, child first then dx is not just politically correct it is important. (think "the boy who has a squint" versus "squint-boy"). Takes longer to say but gives a totally different perception.

It isn't a case of going through stages (ie you don't progress through various stages to shouting innapropriately). I'm sure there are some good documentarys, utube, and wiki type info for background.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee Thu 10-Jan-13 13:03:25

Ok thanks so much for all the info . I really do get the child first dx second but a slip up on my
. Will seriously be keeping an eye on other children especially in playground. But now my question is would there be any specific things I could do to make this child feel safe . Ie a special room we have at school that is always avaible for all children should they feel the need to chill out because they are not coping being in school on any particular day . would this be suitable to suggest or is it better to stay in the classroom .We can educate the children in class to not react every time he may be having ticks . just wondering if any one has any ideas that has really worked for there child in a main strewn primary school.

PolterGoose Thu 10-Jan-13 13:14:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 10-Jan-13 13:22:12

Tics may not look or sound how you expect. ime DS1 was 'told off' constantly by his teachers for throat-clearing, sniffing, coughing etc. Part of the problem is that tics can be normal behaviour and are not constant over time but increase/decrease according to both chronic and acute stress. You should also be aware that tics can be motor - facial grimacing, shrugging etc.

Ignore that actual tic and look at the context in which it occurs or if it occurs in multiple contexts then reduce general stress levels.

Tourette's may not exist in isolation and any co-existing problems/needs must be addressed. Exacerbation of tics is a very good indication that needs are not being met.

At primary school the other children were not the problem - sometimes they would copy tics (like blinking) without realising that they were tics but in more of a 'cool new playground craze' way rather than teasing.

zzzzz Thu 10-Jan-13 13:23:02

In my experience children who have had appropriate disability awareness training are generally not the issue for children with sn. The adults both professional and other parents tend to be more difficult. Your best port of call are the parents/carers as they will know what helps this child which is generally cheaper, quicker and more apt than generic solutions.
They will also be extremely anxious so as much contact as possible before and during the boy starting is helpful. Do not discuss anything in front of other parents it will be remembered morphed and used by the horrid.

mariammama Thu 10-Jan-13 14:10:06

Just ask the parents what the tics look/ sound like, so you know what's a tic, and what's just messing about. A generic lesson about individual differences and bullying wouldn't go amiss, either well before or well after he starts so it's not obviously linked to him and his tics. Dinner supervisors etc need very clear briefing, in my experience (adh/ asd) it's the occasional staff who find ds hard.

If you (and everyone else) can just ignore the tics, he can ignore them too and get on with life as usual. Be aware a lot of ds with Tourettes have other issues alongside though, adhd is especially common.

mariammama Thu 10-Jan-13 14:11:14

and a plan for assembly

wakeupandsmellthecoffee Thu 10-Jan-13 14:25:37

oh god just realised about assembly and not forgetting hymn practice.
we are an excellent school with a lot of Children who have additional needs .
Ie Autism ,Adhd,ODD ,Aspergers.
so all in all we are used to helping each other along .
I really thought it was important to ask the people who deal
with it all the time . So thank you very much . If any one else has any suggestions that have helped please post . TIA.

zzzzz Thu 10-Jan-13 14:30:56

For ds snif/snort gets him into the most trouble. It also hurts after a while.

It's fabulous that you have such an inclusive school. I wonder if you have ever thought about asking the parents of children with additional needs what their experience is/was like? It often isn't till you've walked through something that the gaps show, and certainly there is little opportunity in most schools to communicate problems. The vast majority of issues don't cost money to solve, just understanding.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee Thu 10-Jan-13 15:17:53

Zzzzzz I will mention your idea to senco about asking the parents.
Also I think it must be so draining on the child using all their energy they must be absolutely knackered at the end of the day .
well let's hope we do the right things and make his life easier.

mariammama Thu 10-Jan-13 17:41:18

There's a nice concept about only having to be a good-enough mother, remember it's ok for teachers as well wink

Frustratedartist Fri 11-Jan-13 20:36:49

I'm so pleased you are so sensitive about this condition.
I have two children (out of 4) who have suddenly developed severe Tourettes in the last year. Their school have also been very good at endeavouring to understand and help them

In my experience the condition is very variable and it would be a good idea to speak to the child's parents for their individual picture. Tourettes is often associated with co-morbid conditions. Sometimes my DD does take liberties in class, and it's not her Tourettes - just her personality

Particular points that I have found that are not obvious are
Just because a child with Tourettes is not tic-cing, it doesn't mean to say they are not suffering - or working extremely hard to contain their tics. My two know they are now different to everyone else in their class, and they just want to be normal. My DD has a traffic light system for when she wants to leave. They have both had to be encouraged to ask for breaks during the day.

Tics or suppressing tics can be exhausting - both of mine have gone for rests during the day
Tics can affect their concentration - both of mine are at the top of their class- but both now find Maths much more difficult. However, their art has improved!

Assemblies/ having to sit still in a crowd can be a nightmare. DD had an awful time at the Church service last Easter. She had a very prominent seat and just felt everyone was looking at her. I could see how hard she was having to work just to look normal. A seat at the end of a row - with an escape plan - takes out the anxiety & possibly any need to tic.

Emotion/ conflict/stress or tiredness all make tics worse. My DS sometimes has to walk away in the playground - even if his friends are just play-fighting - otherwise he might well make a rude gesture or swear at them. DD has recently said she has the same experience. Rage can be a feature of Tourette's

I emailed the other parents to let them know my DCs diagnosis. It seems to have been the right thing to do. DDs friends are well aware - she is 13 and had help from the hospital to tell others about her condition. DS is 11- his friends are aware - but have less understanding - which is totally understandable.

Tics can be anything. It's basically stored motor acts or vocal sounds that are unleashed from the brain. Sometimes they can be suppressed, sometimes they come out so fast the child can't help it. Both of mine tic much more at home than they do in public.

Some activities help Tourettes. DD finds sport helpful, but DS tics even more when he's running - he finds art or music helpful.

I hope this helps

Frustratedartist Fri 11-Jan-13 20:49:59

I also do think that whilst you should just accept the tics as 'normal' - sometimes rather than ignoring all of them it's appropriate to ask the child if they are 'ok'. Just as a means of acknowledging they have to cope with an intrusive illness.
Both of mine slap themselves (usually their cheek) frequently. DD has expressed relief when adults ask if she's ok. DS thinks his teacher just never notices anything & I think there's an element of feeling left alone with the illness.
I don't think it's necessary to go overboard with sympathy - more just to be guided by the parents and your own feelings as a teacher.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee Sat 12-Jan-13 12:56:37

Wow. Thank you that is so kind of you to posts. this has been really helpfull. Things like seats in assembly's well church really as we have an Easter service coming up. ash Wednesday I think . the asking if he is ok every so often is nice to know . I suppose it's a case not doing right for doing wrong.
We use the traffic light system on some children but we also use the five finger system as you always have your fingers with you and you may have mislaid your traffic light card somewhere.
If anyone has anymore to add I would be extremly grateful.

Frustratedartist Sat 12-Jan-13 19:57:12

Thank you
As an after-thought- If he is on any medication it might be worth asking about any associated side-effects. The drugs used can be quite strong & my two have been lucky to mostly be side-effect free, but sometimes symptoms can appear unexpectedly.

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