Be Accountable and Responsible
At first glance, being accountable and responsible for your own or your child’s symptom, coprolalia, may seem harsh. Coprolalia is an uncontrollable symptom of a neurological disorder. This is true. They can’t help it and it is not their fault. However consider that being accountable and responsible does not involve finding fault or laying blame. For example – you step on someone’s toe while waiting in line. It was an accident, the other person will assume it was an accident and it wasn’t done on purpose. You would naturally apologize and ask if the other person was okay. You take responsibility and you are accountable for the action however unintended and unwanted. If you sneeze, you may apologize or excuse yourself, if you trip and bump someone you would apologize, if you were startled and screamed and scared someone else you would apologize and or explain. The same should apply to tics and coprolalia which have an impact on others. It does not imply that the individual is willfully or maliciously doing the act. For example, my son has a screaming tic and when his screaming tic and his coprolalia occur together he is screaming profanities. Everyone in our home knows that it is unintentional and an uncontrollable symptom of his Tourette Syndrome. However, sometimes it hurts! It can hurt our ears, it can startle us, it can shock our neighbours and it can hurt our feelings. As a mom with a young son who has a “f***ing b**** a**hole” tic, being barraged daily with these words, I can say that it hurts, it wears me down, and it sometimes makes me sad. No harm is intended and no blame is laid but if he apologizes, it does a few positive things for us all.
Being responsible and accountable for his neurological symptoms gives him power!
- He can teach others about his symptoms and his disorder and promote understanding. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I have Tourette Syndrome and that was something I can’t control. I can tell you more about it if you would like.”
- He can control the effects of his symptoms on others. He can change how others feel and think about him. “Sorry, that was an accident. I have Tourette Syndrome. I sometimes do things I don’t mean to do. I didn’t mean to do that”
- He will become a powerful social thinker! He learns to care about what others see of his actions and how they feel about him. Being accountable and responsible means “I know I did something that may have affected you negatively, I care, I am sorry and I did not mean to do that to you”. He will grow to be a caring and kind adult.
Being responsible and accountable for his neurological symptoms makes others feel better!
- Just like stepping on my toe, my son saying sorry to me for saying “F**k you” makes me feel better. I know he can’t help it but by apologizing I also know he didn’t mean it and that he cares about my feelings.
- Apologizing or acknowledging the coprolalia also enlightens others, makes them smarter and more tolerant of others. They probably didn’t know it was unintended until there was the apology and explanation. How could they?
For the complete documentary see: Neurologically Gifted’s article, Learning From Kids with Challenging Behaviour: The First Day