Conquering back-to-school anxiety, part 3: Strategies and interventions

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the finale of a three-part series on back-to-school anxiety by the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada.  Part 1 was published on Wednesday, and part 2 was published on Thursday.

There are a number of intervention strategies for combating school avoidance, many more than can be discussed here. The following provides a brief overview. If you suspect that your child or a child you work with is struggling with school avoidance, speak to a professional counsellor, doctor or psychologist to obtain more information.

For students whose avoidance behaviour is driven by depression, effective interventions might include cognitive behavioural therapy, prescription medication, gradual re-entry to school and rewards for school attendance.

A different approach might be take for separation anxiety-driven school avoidance behaviour. Teachers can encourage students to bring a “transitional object” from home (e.g. a favourite stuffed animal) and to take a special object home from school, such a drawing or a book, during the first couple of weeks of school to help the student feel more comfortable. Continue reading

Conquering back-to-school anxiety, part 2: Causes

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part 2 of a three-part series on back-to-school anxiety by the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada.  Part 1 was published on Wednesday, and part 3 will be published on Friday.

As always, in order to understand how to combat the problem, we first need to understand its causes. “Understanding the reasons that students avoid school is the first step in getting them to return,” writes school psychologist Mary Wimmer. In her 2008 article entitled “Why Kids Refuse to Go to School,” Wimmer stresses that school refusal or school avoidance can’t be attributed to a single cause, it results from a complex mix of factors including mental health problems, family issues and the school environment.

Mental health challenges, whether anxiety, depression, Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder or some combination of these, account for 90 percent of the cases of school refusal. According to authors Packer & Pruitt (2010), anxiety, more specifically Separation Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Social/Performance Anxiety, is the leading cause of school avoidance behaviour, affecting 22 percent of school refusers.

Children with Separation Anxiety are usually very young, tend to be preoccupied with the possibility of harm befalling loved ones, and are overly dependent on their parents or caregivers. Social or Performance Anxiety, which accounts for 3.5 percent of school avoidances cases, is slightly different. Continue reading

Let the quizzes begin!

A helpful tic? Yeah, right. Hello people of the interwebs, and welcome to my first bi-weekly quiz post! This week’s theme is … movies! Let the quizzes begin!

Question 1: In the smash-hit movie “The Hunger Games,” based on the epic book trilogy, there are 12 districts (the 13th was demolished) and one main place that controls it all. What is it called?

Question 2: The “Spider-Man” movie series has been a major success and there’s been only four movies! What is the latest movie’s name?

Question 3: The very popular “Ice Age” series has four movies so far and three main characters — Manny, Diego and Sid. A new character was added in the secnd movie, along with what I can only assume are two meercats. What was the new character’s name?

Question 4: In “The Cat In The Hat,” a very funny movie with a great cast  based on a book by Dr. Seuss, who played Cat?

Question 5: One of my personal favorites, “The Avengers,” was amazing and funny at times, but my question is, what are they described as?

Well, that’s it for now. If you know one of these questions, please comment the answer. If you get it right, you will be featured in a future post. That’s all, folks!

Conquering back-to-school anxiety, part 1

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part 1 of a three-part series on back-to-school anxiety by the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada. Parts 2 and 3 will be published Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Fall is fast approaching, and in a few short days, it will be that time again—time to pick up the books, pack the school bag and head back to school!

For many school-aged children, it’s an exciting time—a chance to catch up with friends, swap stories about the summer, sport new outfits and show off new school supplies. It is important to remember, however, that not every child feels this way. For some kids, the prospect of returning to school is unsettling, even dreadful. Rather than feeling excitement, they feel intense fear and anxiety leading them to declare, “I hate school” or “I really, really don’t want to go to school.”

The layperson’s term for this phenomenon is “back-to-school anxiety.” Scholars of the subject call it school phobia, school avoidance or school refusal. Simply defined, these terms refer to any anxiety and fear associated with going to school that can result in a pattern of avoidance of, or refusal to attend, school. This is not to be confused with a dislike of or desire to avoid schoolwork. Quite the opposite; according to one scholar, “Those with true school refusal…are usually willing to complete school work as long as it’s done at home.”

School phobia/avoidance is no small problem. Studies suggest that it affects 2 percent to 5 percent of all school-age children, with the highest incidence occurring among children between the ages of 5 and 6 (age 6 also happens to be the average age when someone with TS first starts experiencing symptoms).

Left unaddressed, school phobia can have serious consequences. In the short-term, it can lead to poor academic performance, parental conflict and diminishing peer relationships. In the long-term, it can result in academic failure, school dropout and employment difficulties.

So, what can be done about it? Can it be curbed? Eliminated? Prevented? If so, how?

7 tips to help manage your temper while ticcing

When I was younger, I had trouble with my tics that eventually led to temper tantrums. According to the website for Stress Free Kids, kids’ temper tantrums and meltdowns are one of the most challenging moments a mom or dad can face. They happen at the most inconvenient times and places.

Children with Tourette Syndrome, SPD, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and Autism often reach overload and have more meltdowns. Temper tantrums are very different from a meltdown, but the way they make parents feel during the moment are the same. Here are 7 tips that will help:

My newest tics

Hello fellow Touretters! (I’m still working on an intro, so please comment what

you think I should use!) As you can see by the title, this is a list of my newest tics. So, without further ado, my newest tics! *insert epic intro music*

  • Looking to the right
  • Biting/licking my bottom lip (Note: This one is uber bad.)
  • Scratching/brushing my nose
  • Scratching my chin with my thumb nail

Well, that’s it for now guys. Again, I’m looking for an intro and outro. Please let me know what you want. Also, every 2 weeks I will make a special quiz post, meaning I will post 5 qustions to which you can comment the answers. If you get the answer right, you will be featured in a future post. So, yeah — that’s all, folks!

“Gifted Ones” Tourette Syndrome collection is growing!

I have created an album of kids and adults with Tourette Syndrome called “The Gifted Ones”! Right now, you can read stories from and see pictures of Jerry, Derek, Madison, Moriah, Jacquelynn, Molly and me, Logan! And you can post your own pics of those of anyone you know with Tourette! For more information, head to my Facebook page, “Help Spread The Word About Tourette Syndrome”. Thanks!

A peek at the novels I’ve started writing

It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

~ J. K. Rowling

Hey everyone! Teens4TS gave me a great idea for this post — to talk about the book I’m writing. But, truth is, I’m writing several at a time. I doubt my writing all the time and what happens is I work on one while needing to edit the other ones. So I am going to talk about some of the books that I started. I won’t be discussing all of them because the rest include death, trauma and religion. And I do not want to start a war about religion and what’s appropriate to talk about.

First, I’ll describe the novel I’m working on right now. I started watching the show “Being Human,” and the ghost named Sally inspired me to write this book. I named it “Unsuccessful Departure.” I don’t think I’m great at titles, but my second mom would beg to differ. It’s about a girl with a hard family life. Her father is a nasty person, especially to her. Later on, she becomes a ghost and a decade later, a man moves into her home. She grows close to him and looks up to him as a father.

Next, I’ll describe my first novel that I started writing officially. I use the word “officially” because when I was in private school in 6th grade, one of our assignments was to write as much of a book as possible. Each chapter had to be 10 pages long. Mine was “A Singer’s Life,” and it turned out horrible, haha! But, anyway, the first novel I actually started to write on my own was inspired by “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” I named it, “Warriors of Dawn.” It, again, turned out horrible, but I am going to work on it when I get the chance.

Now, I will talk about the series that I was so determined to keep writing, but writer’s block won. It’s called, “The Manifest Series,” and I’ll explain why. The series is inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I decided that I was going to use my imagination at the highest level. Instead of just starting to write immediately, I mapped out everything. I brainstormed ideas. I made a list of plots…and that’s when I decided I’d use all of them. Continue reading

Unveiling Tourette Syndrome and revealing its artistic intelligence

As part of Philly Fringe, Band of Artists will present “Tourettes: A Dancing Disorder” at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8, and the Painted Bride Art Center at 230 Vine Street in Philadelphia. It also will appear at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, September 14 and 15 at the Main Stage Theatre of the Spruance FineArts Center at Arcadia University, located at 450 South Easton Road in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

Band of Artists, a unique multidisciplinary group of forward-thinking performers and presenters, unveils the artistic intelligence of Tourette Syndrome in modern dance, music, interactive lecture and Q&A.

Group founder Sutie Madison, who has had Tourette since age 8, explores the fluid boundaries between creative expression and health-event by choreographing out of the tics, twitches and vocalizations of the condition. In the safe space of performance, audiences are invited to gaze without awkwardness, learn about Tourette and question definitions of art and disability.

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe were originally founded in 1997 as the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Today, the Live Arts Festival serves as a series of selected cutting-edge, boundary-breaking performing arts events, created by some of the most renowned contemporary artists from our region and around the world. The Fringe serves as a collective home for artists bringing their work to audiences in every conceivable form — in traditional and untraditional venues, using new artistic forms and established ones, breaking rules or refining them.