The following is a presentation my son, Nathan and I put together for his third grade class on Tourette Syndrome Plus. We have now laminated it and continue to use it to help all those who meet him to understand his disorder, his challenges and his own experiences with his differences. We find the best strategy for managing how Nathan’s behaviours are viewed by others is through education. Knowing what his differences are and why they occur reduces stress levels especially in Nathan. Feel free to use for your class or your child.
“HI! My name is Nathan and I have Tourette Syndrome Plus.”
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder. That means that my brain works differently. Mostly, my brain doesn’t tell me to stop. It has trouble telling me to stop making noises, stop saying words and stop making certain movements.
I also have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD. These are also brain disorders where my brain doesn’t tell me to stop. It is like my brain’s brakes don’t work properly. Sometimes I can’t slow my brain down and sometimes I can’t stop it. This is called an auto-inhibitory disorder.
Tourette Syndrome and my other disorders are genetic, meaning I inherited them from my mom and dad. They are neurochemical meaning it affects the chemicals in my brain. Tourette Syndrome causes me to have tics. My brain doesn’t tell me to stop making certain movements and sounds.
Some of my tics are motor tics. These tics you see as movements I make frequently and the in the same ways. I blow on the back of my hand, stretch my mouth, stomp my leg, bang my elbow on my thigh, throw and catch things I am holding and rub my ear to my shoulder. These are some of my motor tics and they change from time to time.
Some of my tics are vocal tics. These are tics you can hear as words or noises I make. I cough, clear my throat, sniff and yelp. I have a special sort of vocal tic called coprolalia. Coprolalia is a vocal tic that makes me say bad words. Most kids with Tourette Syndrome don’t have coprolalia. I do. I mostly say the same bad word and sometimes a few times in a row. I know that swearing is wrong just like all of you do. I can’t help it and knowing how wrong it is just makes it worse. Please just ignore when they happen.
“My tics can be a pain. I get stared at, I get in trouble, I can have a hard time writing, sometimes they hurt and sometimes I break things because of my tics.”
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD causes my brain to forget what I am doing and pay attention to something else. Lots of times it is things that I don’t even want to pay attention to like the lights humming or flickering, the clouds outside, someone moving their foot, the clock ticking or bright colours on the board. I get caught lots of times not paying attention to what I am supposed to. ADHD makes me act before thinking. I blurt out answers before being asked, interrupt people and I respond before thinking of the consequences.
“My ADHD can be a pain. It gets me in trouble a lot and makes my friends mad for things I wouldn’t have even done, if I had a moment to think about it.”
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, makes it hard for me to stop thinking certain thoughts. These are obsessions and they are unpleasant, silly and annoying. I sometimes have thoughts about my family being sick or hurt and sometimes about germs and dirt. OCD also makes me do certain things I don’t want to do, sometimes over and over. I have to make things even on my left and right sides. I have to touch, smell and lick things I don’t even want too. And then sometimes I have to tell someone about it.
“My OCD can be a pain. It slows me down when I want to do something else and distracts me when I want to pay attention. It makes me do things or say things until it feels just right.”