An Educators’ Inservice: Module 1

A Presentation by Ann Deutsch, MSN and Janine Howley, MA
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In our webinar, we learned how to recognize students’ difficulties as well as their strengths and potential. Join the discussion about the webinar by reading on.

Q: Please address strategies for middle schoolers who miss lots of school in and out during the day and how to keep up.


  1. set up buddy system for note taking so student gets a complete set of notes at end of day, OR have a rough outline of lesson from teacher so child can go back and get high points of lesson. A sheet from teacher at the start of a content unit stating main concepts and vocabulary to be mastered keeps the child on track and lets him know what he is responsible for. Study guides before exams are also beneficial. VERY helpful to parents if they are working with the child at home.
  2. use of a tape recorder especially for discussion parts of lesson I have set things up in classrooms where buddy note taking and taping discussions is routine and done on a daily basis with the product available to any student who wants to review what was said (great for kids who are distractible or not feeling well and there fore not paying as close attention) and for kids who are absent and need a copy of missed notes. We have always said that the strategies that are good for our kids can be good for all kids just for different circumstances.
  3. a set time weekly with teacher to catch up on work missed. Can also be approached from lesson to lesson. Child is not allowed to be out of the class during the first 3 or last 8-10 minutes of the lesson. This is where the goals of the lesson and what will be covered is presented and then the last 8-10 minutes is a wrap up summary of the main points covered including key concepts and vocabulary.
  4. If the child is going out for speech or resource room, is there a way to integrate the classroom lesson into those special subject lessons while still addressing any IEP goals, etc. It can be a little tricky, but it can be done and is a very productive use of the time.
  5. Flexibility in class/assignment requirements, with tics on the wax and wane, accommodations may not be necessary on a permanent basis, just when needed. A quick review of the lesson of the preceding day before presenting new information allows kids to get their mind on the right page so to speak and refresh memory skills. Gotta keep expectations real for this child and of course some kids will say it is not fair, but then it is not their classroom.
  6. A frank discussion with the student and parents. If time is needed out of class, is there a way that parents can support teacher by picking up some of the slack at home. This does NOT mean more homework. As parents, we used to have extra books at home and would preview the unit and material ahead of time so at least son #1 knew what was going to be discussed, had some of the basic concepts and could more easily fill in the blanks. The skill of “closure” is a big one for kids with TS / OCD and ADHD as they are often missing parts of discussions/conversations, etc. and have to fill in the missing pieces. We would talk about some of the things at dinner or in the car. I read or should I say reread many of the novels my son was reading along with him. For English, I read a lot of books to him as well. Who said you have to give up bedtime story time (or waiting in the car for your sister to finish her soccer practice story time?) Contracts work really well with middle school kids if there is incentive to fulfill the obligation of the contract. (We used movie passes or BK/Wendy’s coupons at the end of midterm and final exams)
  7. For English, books on tape are wonderful supports, especially if the sitting still to read is an issue.


  1. kteabo says:

    Q: Is it common to see some similar behaviors to autism in a TS child?

  2. kteabo says:

    Q: Can you talk about “holding in tics” and what happens to a kid when they do this?

  3. kteabo says:

    Q: So usually you get TS before 18 years old normally between the ages of 6-8? Or is 6-8 years old the age when you usually get it?

  4. j.howley says:

    A: Many times during the workshops that I give, the subject of similarities between autism and TS comes up. Not only have other educators indicated that have seen a similarity between students with autism and those with TS, I myself have seen similarities in both my own son (with TS) and my students (with TS) and students identified as having autism spectrum disorders.

  5. j.howley says:

    A: The best way I can discribe “holding in tics” is to remember the next time you get the urge to yawn, try to hold it back. You’ll find it is hard to concentrate on both supressing the yawn and the person/program you’re listening to. It’s the ultimate multi-tasking. And while we can do it to some degree, if we have to do it too much, we feel overwhelmed with frustration.

  6. j.howley says:

    A: To be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, the onset (when the symptoms first occurred) must have been before age 18. Typical onset is around age 6 – 8. However, people have reported having the symptoms occur as early as 3 – 4 yrs of age. One does not have to be diagnosed before age 18. The diagnosis may come much later in life when the motor and vocal tics, which have been present since childhood, are discribed to and recognized by an astute physician.