WEDNESDAY WEBINARS: January accommodation series a big hit; February to focus on phobias & anxiety

Susan Conners, M.Ed., an authority on educating students with Tourette Syndrome who serves as a go-to source for major networks and other media outlets in their coverage of TS, presented “The 504 Accommodation Plan vs. the Individualized Education Plan (IEP)” on January 15 and “Accommodations, Strategies and Techniques for Working with Students with Tourette Syndrome” on January 22 as part of the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders’ (NJCTS) popular ongoing Wednesday Webinar series.

The webinars discussed the differences between various education accommodation plans and offered assistance to parents and educators who need help understanding which is most appropriate for a student with TS, an associated neurological disorder or other special-needs condition both in the classroom and at home. Here is some feedback NJCTS has received on the webinars:

We can now respond to the school who denied us the IEP because our son’s educational skills and performance are adequate. We feel relieved to know others have had the same obstacles we have come against and now feel better prepared to help our child.
~Janet from New Jersey

As a parent of a child with TS and an educator, I will use this info to review my child’s IEP. I will also be more aware of parents’ rights and be more of an advocate for the family. I also run a local chapter support group, and I will be able to be more of an advocate to those families who are having problems with the schools (there are several). I now have more information to give them and ideas to help them get the accommodations they desire and need for their child to succeed in school.
~Susan from Delaware

I am particularly happy I learned more about specific examples of OCD.  My son has TS plus anxiety and OCD, but I didn’t realize his obsessive sense of justice was part of OCD, nor did I attribute his ‘fear/worry when he heard a siren and thought it was about us’ as part of it. This was very helpful, and I plan to discuss with his therapist and psychiatrist.
~ Heather from North Carolina

NJCTS has two Wednesday Webinars scheduled for February. On February 12, Martin E. Franklin, PhD, will present “Treating Specific Phobias: When & How”, which will focus on cognitive behavioral therapies that can help properly manage the many fears that are commonly associated with neurological disorders and mental health conditions.

On February 26, Brian C. Chu, PhD, will present “Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome Anxiety and Mood Problems with Behavioral Activation and Exposure”, which will describe how evidence-based practice strategies, such as behavioral activation and in vivo exposure, can be used to help pre-teens and teens develop a more active coping approach toward life.

NJCTS’ Wednesday Webinar series was launched in 2008 and today draws an audience from 48 states and 15 countries. The series has featured more than 50 online seminars for parents, educators, physicians and professionals on topics of interest to the Tourette Syndrome and associated disorders community.

These webinars are FREE to view, but those wishing to receive a Professional Development Certificate or a Certificate of Attendance for attending any of these live webinars must pay a $20 nonrefundable fee to receive the certificate. For more information, please call 908-575-7350 or visit

There’s more to life than just TS

In his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller chronicles his journey from apathy to outrageous purpose and joy. Per the website link above:

After writing a successful memoir, Donald Miller’s life stalled. During what should have been the height of his success, he found himself unwilling to get out of bed, avoiding responsibility, even questioning the meaning of life. But when two movie producers proposed turning his memoir into a movie, he found himself launched into a new story filled with risk, possibility, beauty and meaning.

“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” chronicles Miller’s rare opportunity to edit his life into a great story, to reinvent himself so nobody shrugs their shoulders when the credits roll. Through heart-wrenching honesty and hilarious self-inspection, Donald Miller takes readers through the life that emerges when it turns from boring reality into meaningful narrative.

Miller goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America, from living in romantic daydreams to fearful encounters with love, from wasting his money to founding a nonprofit with a passionate cause. Guided by a host of outlandish but very real characters, Miller shows us how to get a second chance at life the first time around. “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” is a rare celebration of the beauty of life.

In reflecting yet again on this book, I am convicted in the truth our own life stories must be full of heroes, journeys and daring adventures. Unlike the movies, however, we don’t get to sit back from the comfort of our chairs and watch the hero. We get to be the hero, and that’s something entirely different, isn’t it?

Watching the hero you get to say, “Oh, wow, that action scene was epic! The special effects were awesome, and hair stayed perfectly coiffed, even during the knife fight!”

When you are the hero, suddenly the action is much more intense. You can’t rely on a trail guide. You have to bring your blade, cut down branches, forge new paths, cross scary rivers, and go face-to-face with giants. That’s not thrilling and inspiring. It’s not inspiring. It’s downright terrifying.

But mamas, isn’t this what makes you a hero in your child’s life? Continue reading

When “Let’s Talk” hits home

I know there will be those who point out that Tourette’s itself is a neurological disorder and not a “mental illness,” but the fact is that when you add in the co-occuring disorders like OCD and anxiety, and the stress and social isolation that it can lead to, Tourette’s does become a mental health issue, and that is something we need to be able to talk about.

When Let’s Talk Hits Home (from the “Rethink Child and Adolescent Mental Health” Facebook page)

I’ve been researching into the causes and treatments of mental illness for over 15 years, working with families and kids facing everything from an uphill climb to Armageddon itself, and everything between.

A few months ago, I found myself sitting on the opposite side of the table.

My youngest is facing Tourette’s syndrome with all its associated issues – problems with attention, learning difficulties, anxiety, and the like.

Has this changed how I feel about him? Not one bit. I always marveled at his tenacity – but trying to keep up with two older brothers will develop that. He’s funny, compassionate, clever, and creative. I know in my heart and my head, regardless of course of illness, he will persevere.

Every tic still evokes a visceral reaction me, though. Every difficulty in school met with a desire to solve it NOW. Even though he has a great group of friends at school, it is hard not to worry about bullying as the tics become more apparent.

Like every parent, I want my child to be OK. But he is not;he is facing a major hurdle, a true test of character … in elementary school. Continue reading

Using positive language for success

One of the first words we learn as children is “No”.

Positive Language: Neurologically GiftedWe learn the meaning of “No” early in our development.  It’s a quick and easy instruction. “No” is simple and used regularly – especially with toddlers because it is immediately effective at that age.  A stern “No” and an action to stop the child quickly ends the behavior that we don’t want.

The effectiveness of this strategy usually backfires for us when our child learns to parrot “No” back to us.  Often called the “terrible twos”, children start to assert their self determination.  They learn that if “No” works on them it should work on everyone else.

From childhood, we become accustomed to hearing and giving  instructions that start with “Don’t” and “Stop”.  We learn that “Don’t hit” or “Stop talking” is quick,  clear and easy to comply with – but is it really?  In the long run, the “No” strategy often ends up creating more problems for us than solutions.

As parents, we often become frustrated and angry with our children because when we tell them what not to do, they quickly find something else to do that is equally undesirable.  ”Stop talking” becomes singing or whispering, “Don’t hit” becomes poking or kicking.

Positive Language:  Neurologically GiftedWithout clear instruction, children are often frustrated as well. They have followed your instruction, but now they’re in trouble for doing something else! They have a multitude of other behaviors to choose from and feel overwhelmed, (or fearful), at the potential of further failure. Children often prefer clear direction so that they can be successful. Continue reading

My Story: “One Twitch At A Time” part 3

Here’s the continuation of my story, which I posted on here last week and started on my One Twitch At A Time page on Facebook. But PLEASE BE WARNED, I TALK ABOUT DRUG USE & DRUG ABUSE IN THIS PART, SO PARENTS KEEP THAT IN MIND IF YOU HAVE YOUNGER READERS READING THIS.

The freedom that NBHS’s open campus policy provided was both a blessing and a curse. I loved being able to roll over to the mall next door during lunchtime while at the same time using the various stores as my personal playground.

Lord knows how many dollars’ worth of merchandise I absconded with, but at the time I didn’t care. All I knew was that I was good at stealing and the kids that weren’t were willing to pay me for “services rendered” (I sure hope the “statute of limitations” protects me here!!).

But soon enough the thrill began to wear down — not to mention finally getting caught — and I soon realized that no matter how much I stole and tried to buy acceptance, the so-called “mean kids” were still there and still took great pleasure in making me feel like some sort of mistake that never should have been.

I was desperate for some sort of escape and soon found there were plenty of people willing to get the twitchy guy high. We’ve all heard the old idiom “first hits free,” but for some reason, while the 1st, 2nd and 3rd hits were free, I never once had to pay for any of my dope. People were constantly giving it to me, and I was not gonna turn it down.

I know that marijuana has been known to help some with their TS, but it never did anything for mine. All it got me were conversations with street lights, barking at classmates, attempting to make light black by mixing white and black paint only to discover I had made gray, being branded a stony looser by teachers and some old friends, and making the already difficult task of classroom learning completely impossible. Continue reading

Dealing with stress

Having a neurological disorder can present many welcome abilities. However, they can also present many challenges. Many neurological disorders increase the likelihood that a person will suffer from a mental health disorders. Some of these disorders can lead to intense feelings of anxiety and depression.

Stress and Mental Health Mental Health StressStress (good or bad) can exacerbate symptoms and lead to “overload”. Because some people who have neurological disorders are poorly equipped to self regulate themselves, they can unknowingly exhaust themselves physically as well as mentally.

In such a case, poor mental health may come upon them slowly, without detection. Or, a sudden stressful situation may occur, and it may “tip” a person into a state of poor mental health very quickly. Regardless of the cause, judgement will be impaired and a sufferer may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.

In extreme cases, a sufferer may make harmful decisions (to themselves or others) in a failed attempt to cope with their situation, symptoms or fears. As someone with neurological disorders, I know I must be aware that my neurological disorders can pose challenges to my mental health and have the potential to lead to a state of mental ill-health.

It’s a reality that I must be aware of and vigilance is required in order to reduce the risks. I know that the times of greatest risk to me often occur when I am subjected to external pressure. Pressure is perceived differently by each person, based on their personal strengths and weaknesses.

Stress can come from work, family or stressful events such as having an ill friend or family member. To preserve my healthy mental health state, it is vital that I know what my weaknesses and my “triggers” are. Knowing what “stresses you out” will allow you to plan to avoid (if possible) the trigger or minimize its affect on your mental well-being. Continue reading

Please support the “What Makes Us Tic” documentary project

A good documentary for educating about Tourette’s. With support it, could become a great documentary.

A lot of people either haven’t, or have only heard stereotyped references to it like “the swearing disorder.” Tourette Syndrome (TS) is actually a neurological disorder that is characterized by tics, which are uncontrollable movements or vocalizations.

TS is often judged and misunderstood because of the stigmas that have been created by the media and and a general lack of information about the disorder publicly. I intend to change that.

Through the power of film, What Makes Us Tic is an insightful documentary that aims to promote Tourette Syndrome awareness in a positive way, and give a fresh perspective of what living with this neurological disorder is really like.

It will also provide resources for individuals living with the disorder, as well as their parents, teachers, friends, co-workers, or anyone else who may be affected by their TS. But ultimately this film really is for anyone who wants to learn more about Tourette Syndrome! Continue reading

My Story: “One Twitch At A Time” part 2

Here’s the continuation of my story, which I posted on here last week and started on my One Twitch At A Time page on Facebook.

Wow, what a different world this North Bend Middle School was — it seemed so big and ominous. I was both excited and terrified at the same time (excitified??), but I knew that a couple of my old KCS friends were somewhere. I quickly reconnected with them for a time, but I soon began to make new friends, guys like Tom, Mark (aka Mok), Jarrod and of course Shawn (aka “The B.U.S.” — Big Uncle Shawn, as my kids would eventually call him).

Though I was making some great friends, the inherent attention grabbing nature of Tourette Syndrome kicked in full force. Obviously there were the various “grunt”-type of noises, but my “built-in evil twin” — as I like to call TS — soon discovered that it really liked the attention that making a “kiss/smooch” sound garnered, and so I spent Lord knows how long making that God-awful noise.

Bus rides home were especially agonizing as the junior high and high school rode the same bus, and man … them high schoolers were ruthless. Now there was no way in hell they were gonna let some junior high kids sit in the back, so we were always chased to the front seats — at which time I had to endure various things being thrown at the back of my head, the ever popular “ear flick” or if I happened to wear a hat that day it would promptly be snatched and passed around the bus with God only knows what inside of it.

At one point, things got so bad I refused to go to school because I simply couldn’t take the harassment anymore, but thankfully a lady at our church — Jeannie, I think — took some time to pray and go through some choice Bible passages with me. And with God’s help, I eventually went back.

There are apparently a lot of stories and instances that I have completely forgotten about because of a very bad car wreck I was in in 1991 (more on that as the story progresses), so I guess you could call it partial amnesia, but when I started this blog my longtime friend Mike shared a story from our junior high years that was completely lost to me: Continue reading

Why I won’t give out formula info

Hi guys. Some of you have commented or written to me that you want the same formulas Martina, Stink’s acupuncturist, is using on Stink. The reason I’m not giving them out is because these particular formulas are based on Stink’s particular make-up:

  • The color of his tongue (his is bright red which apparently means big liver issues — all the food? I don’t know)
  • His temperature
  • His “wind” — whether he has hot or cold energy
  • His particular issues — for him, lingering head shakes. The vocals are GONE

I am NOT PUSHING you call Martina for a consultation, but I CAN tell you that she will help guide you toward someone who can help your son or daughter get their particular needs met.

Full Disclosure: Despite all of Martina’s amazing acupuncture, my son has major head shakes still. Martina thinks it’s because he had a bunch of gluten, and perhaps the time spent on the computer. I don’t know. I am a bit disappointed, but she is really sure she will knock it down at some point. I KNOW I’m not willing to take him off of electronics and everything he loves so that I can feel better. We’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂

Questions for Martina, the Acupuncturist?

What are they? Leave a message and I will have her answer them within 3 days, via the comment section or a post.

FREE webinars related to Tourette Syndrome & associated neurological disorders


Treating Specific Phobias: When and How?
February 12, 2014
Presented by Martin E. Franklin, Ph.D.
More information about this webinar »

Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome Anxiety & Mood Problems with Behavioral Activation & Exposure

February 26, 2014
Presented by Brian Chu, Ph.D.
More information about this webinar »

Creative Arts Therapy

March 26, 2014
Presented by Kathleen Nace of CNNH
More information about this webinar »

Resilience & Tourette Syndrome

April 9, 2014
Presented by Cathy Budman, MD
More information about this webinar »


Accommodations, Strategies & Techniques for Working with Students with Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders

January 22, 2014
Presented by Susan Conners, M.Ed.
View this webinar »

504 Accommodation Plan vs. IEP (Individualized Education Plan)

January 15, 2014
Presented by Susan Conners, M.Ed.
View this webinar »

Continue reading