Teaching pupils with Tourette’s Syndrome

  • Accept the student “as is.” The tic is not deliberate nor an attempt to get attention or disrupt the class. Similarly, other behaviour that is not related should not be excused.
  • Observe and record behaviour on both a short and long term basis.
  • If it is acceptable to parents and the student, explain to the class what Tourette’s syndrome is.
  • Maintain the same expectations for the student as for the rest of the class. A student with Tourette syndrome may sometimes need extra time for assignments or a separate room for tests. The student may have a compulsive ritual, such as setting out materials in a certain order, before beginning an assignment.
  • Use the “buddy” system to help the student overcome difficulties as they arise. A “buddy” is a responsible student who may assist with copying notes, reading, etc.
  • help the student through stressful experiences. Explain in advance what is expected, particularly in timed activities.
  • Give instruction in stages. Too many items to be remembered at one time cause extra stress.
  • Use tape recorders, typewriters or computers for reading and writing problems and untimed exams, in a private room if vocal tics are a problem
  • Allow the student to leave the room whenever the tic becomes overwhelming. If possible provide a “safe place” where the expression of the tic will be less noticeable
  • Give positive and immediate feedback for a task well done or a social situation handled well. With so much of their behaviour socially unacceptable, these students need to know when they are doing well
  • Seat the student, with mutual understanding and agreement, near the back of the room. Older students should seat themselves wherever they feel most comfortable. This not only allows for leaving if necessary, but is less disruptive
  • Establish a classroom atmosphere which is tolerant and accepting. It is important that the teacher serve as a role model for the students in promoting understanding

Further Information

Explaining Tourette’s Syndrome – an idea