Ken Shyminsky, a former vice president of the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada, draws upon his personal experiences as a teacher and student with Tourette Syndrome to help children with TS and related disorders. He also has Tourette himself and is the founder of the website Neurologically Gifted.
School meetings are most often difficult for the parent but so important for your child. Your child is special, requires special accommodations, your child’s behavior doesn’t follow the normal or expected behaviour or your child isn’t learning as well as he or she could. Perhaps it’s not your first meeting or perhaps the strategies being implemented aren’t working. Perhaps your child’s teacher or school administration isn’t understanding your child’s difficulties and differences or are unable to offer help. In any case, it usually provides for a stressful time for the parent….trying to make things better for your child.
I have attended countless school meetings. My son, having Tourette Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Oppositional Defiance Disorder, provides an unending barrage of challenges for the adults who help to shape his life. Some of these school meetings have gone well, some have been a complete disaster. I have survived them, dreaded them and finally, I now feel blessed that the adults in my child’s school understand his differences, see his challenges and strengths, listen to him and help to guide him and teach him.
In the past, have been at school meetings because my child was suspended for behavior that was out of his control. I have been to school meetings where I have been face to face with an adult who told my son he was faking and didn’t have Tourette Syndrome or coprolalia. I have been to school meetings where I have been asked to keep my child home for all or part of school days. I have been to school meetings where administration has asked my child’s psychiatrist how they can “turn a blind eye to his behaviour and just let him get away with it?” It has been a very heartbreaking and difficult road.
I have not always been able to follow these tips that I will share, but I do know that even the really, really bad school meetings would have been a little better if I had been able to remember the following things: