Spotting Tourette in the Classroom, Part 2: So what’s a teacher to do?

Spotting Tourettes in the Classroom

Everyone remembers that kid in class who made weird noises to annoy the teacher. But what about those instances where the noises aren’t meant to drive the teacher crazy? Is it possible a student might be dealing with Tourette Syndrome? How do you know if it’s a Tic Disorder, Tourette, or just another attempt to annoy everyone around him? Today we’re going to discuss what teachers can do properly when they encounter Tourette in the classroom.

Once a teacher realizes the child has symptoms that match a tic disorder or Tourette, there are basic accommodations that can be made in the classroom. Some of these can be best made with IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) or in basic, quiet changes only known by the teacher and student. Here are a few good tips I’ve found:

From Northern Illinois University College of Education

  • Have a duplicate set of text books for the child to keep at home. This can help students who might have missed details of the text because of the ticcing. Just think, if your head is constantly jerking or your eyes are constantly blinking, it can be quite distracting in the classroom. You might need to go over the material again later.
  • Use a seating chart to allow for any movement tics. This is especially helpful if the child has a tic like jumping or jerking, something where she needs to move, and it will lessen the distraction to other students.

From the Newtown PAC Family Resource Center by Susan Conners, M.Ed., Education Specialist, TSA, Inc.

  • Give the child frequent breaks out of the classroom to release tics in a less embarrassing environment, e.g. the bathroom, the drinking fountain, a real or made up errand to run. It’s important to have a safe place where the student can go to release his tics, somewhere where he won’t feel embarrassed to let out the extra energy burning up inside of him.
  • Do not penalize students for poor handwriting. Provide alternatives for doing tests, assignments, etc. (orally, taped). It can be difficult to write well when your hand is constantly moving on its own accord. This is an accommodation that might be best discussed in an IEP meeting (a meeting between the teacher, any school staff involved in this part of the student’s education, such as school psychologist, counselor, principal, and resource teacher, and the parents). Continue reading