Tonight I had to write the letter below to Stink’s teacher. Apparently, this is the week of honest correspondence. Spineless salespeople…. ignorant gradeschoolers… at least I knew Stink’s teacher would be receptive.
From our first conversation last year in the halls – before she was even Stink’s teacher – she demonstrated not only humor and smarts but an emotional intelligence that I’d been dreaming of in an educator.
Still, those fears I had when he was diagnosed five years ago – worries that included being teased and harrassed for noises and twitches he couldn’t control – were finally being realized. It was a somber moment.
At the same time, it was liberating. Because although I wished I didn’t have to deal with this, I wasn’t scared. And my son wasn’t too upset either. Sad an annoyed? Yes. But broken? Hardly. The past five years had been spent concentating on Stink’s strength, not his weaknesses. No fourth-grader was going to take him down.
So with strength (I fake it sometimes) and lack of fear (anxiety will hit later when I’m PMSing or out of Zoloft or Day 6 of my no nightly glass of vino quest) I give you the letter which all mothers of tickers worry about writing:
So I hate to be THAT mom, but I was saying prayers with Stink tonight and he mentioned feeling sad about some kid named who always asks about his tics. Stink doesn’t care if people ask, and he gives the standard, “Oh, I have Tourette and make tics. I can’t help it!” and that usually suffices.
But apparently this kid keeps saying, “You CAN help it. You CAN help your TS.” He will move out of line if he’s next to Stink and say he does not want to stand next to him because of the sounds.
There’s 3 things going on in my opinion:
- Of COURSE people are going to be annoyed sometimes. As a mom, I get annoyed myself but…
- It’s an opportunity for kids to be more accepting of others.
- Stink needs to educate the class on his condition. It might make his tics calm down.
Is there any way, sooner than later, my son can have the floor and just give an update to the class on what it is to have TS? I can get a video about it if that will help.
Or maybe Stink can talk about it in a PLC? (TRANSLATION for my blog readers: PLC stands for “Peaceful Learning Circle.” My kids go to an amazing public charter school. They call teachers by first names. They used to have an assistant T.A. who wore mismatched socks named who sported a fro and went by “ChaChi.” I can’t make this stuff up. Now back to the letter to Stink’s teacher.)
I feel bad hitting you with all this on the 3rd week of school. I just want to nip the “social” stuff in the bud now so I can really focus on, well, getting Stink to FOCUS and be the best he can be.
Thank you –
Andrea (and Rex!)
My question for you readers: So what would you do? No, kicking some kid to Mars is not an option. Stink doesn’t want meds for his tics. He says he feels sad, but not enough for more medicine. He thinks this kid just needs to deal with it. Do you? I see both sides, honestly, but most of all, I’m happy my kid is confident in himself. Still… where do I make choices for him where his social life is at stake? You know, like being invited to a party by an ignorant dumb ass who only hangs out with ignorant dumbasses? Oh, wait…
Hi i am the mother of the sweetest 8 yr old girl with TS we have always refered to her tics as habbits and I tell her these will pass like the other ones we live in a small town with a even smaller school, one class per grade so im sure over the years her peers have noticed her tics but they are starting to ask questions and laugh at her about them :( I need to now explain to my daughter what thes habbits really are and let her tell her classmates aswell.Her teacher this year is probablly the best teacher to help come out with this information to the kids but i am scared! and havent come to terms my self that this isnt going to go away and i cant protect her by ignoring it. Last night she told me her seat partner laughs at her every time she jerks her head my response was she is mean and a bully dont hang out with her, but her response to me was thats what you always say I wont have any friends if i keep doing that. How could i give her such bad advice for so long??? I have looked on line only to find info i already know any help would be soooo appreciated Dornitamiah@hotmail.com
Unfortunately there wasn’t any supporting centers they were 100% closed in mind ..they didn’t want to make or contact to understand what’s the meaning of TS and I think we still have this problem ..most of people don’t have any information or ideas about it.. I supported my son psyclogical by searching and contacting with others by the Internet and I hope to find a supporting page in different language so our voice will reach to different parts in the earth
I can understand because I had this problem with others who didn’t know what is the meaning of TS
Espically at school they didn’t have any information and there wasn’t any supportation centers ..they just thought that my son is a dangerous strange nervous boy…they felt fear of him…which made the students and the parents feel the same thing because of too much negative talking..I help my son by contacting with others from different country to know how to support and help him..I think all the world must know what’s the meaning of TS..they must know about TS people…we still need more supportation …god bless you all
Randa – Did you have support during this time? For me, although it’s been a rough journey, I always felt like people had my back. Stink’s school has been amazing. It’s a public charter and they are so open and out of the box with their educational approaches. It makes me happy to be alive when I see how our “flaws” don’t have to define us.
I am shocked to hear about your child’s school life. My eyes are tearing as I write this letter to you.
I live in a very rural area in Nova Scotia with my husband, son, and daughter. My daughter suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, and this specific issue you wrote about is also a great concern of mine aswell. I am still informing my daughter’s teachers ( every year) about TS, and how it affects her. (as each person is different) I changed her schools as we had more issues with the teachers not understanding, than the school kids.
Out of frustration I wrote a book called “Tic” Talk (I didn’t realize there was another one with the same name until after I had mine published) I am looking forward to launching it in my area, along with help from our local newspaper. I will be giving free copies to the local schools, in hopes that it will educate not only the young, but the old aswell.
Furthermore, the bullying she received caused me to write “Bullying is a Big Deal”.
Both my books are on amazon.com (.ca)
I would love to hear from you, and feel free to visit my blog aswell.
Hi Danica – I would love to read your book. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to write a post about it, do a give away (if you are interested) or introduce you to the editor here in NJ. He’s always looking for writers to do posts!
We would love to see a blog about your bullying book, too. Do you think you could put that together? Let us know. Thanks!
i love your letter.
i had the same experience when my son was in 2nd grade. only it was the TEACHER who was telling him this. and also telling all the kids to ignore him when he makes noises as he was just doing it for attention. oh and also telling him that the reason he has no friends, is he makes too many noises. yes. really.
you should have seen me at THAT iep meeting!
I think your idea of stink informing the class is perfect. most of my son’s friends have gotten the short version from my son, and new friends have to get it as well-because they all ask. yes, have the PLC!
Elizabeth – How is your child doing now? I’m sorry you had to go through the same thing, but I guess life isn’t easy! It’s hard though. Stay strong!