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The value in school presentations

Posted Sun 8th Sep 2019 at 07:00
by Caroline

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In this blog, mum Caroline writes about the presentation her son gave about living with TS to his school assembly

My name is Caroline and I have two boys with Tourette’s Syndrome: L. who is 9 ½ and K. who is 4 1/2 . I add ½ as both of them would be offended if I didn’t!

L. was diagnosed with TS at 5. At 6, he moved to a local primary school as they offered a more inclusive and supportive environment. At seven, during a peak in his tics, his year 2 teacher made a presentation to his class about what TS is as children were starting to notice L.’s tics and asking him about them. This seemed to really help him back then and he felt more confident after this. L. has always been accepting of his own Tourettes and he is able to happily tic in class and in public.

During a school sharing assembly last April, L.’s dad, his little brother K. and myself decided to attend. K., although only 4, seems to have a stronger Tourettes than his older brother. His snorting and clearing his throat are very loud. Children around us laughed at his noises during the assembly and I felt sad and worried for him as he will be joining reception in this school next year. I asked the headteacher if I could lead an assembly about Tourettes to the whole school and she was very supportive of the idea. When I contacted Tourettes Action for some advice, they could not have been more helpful: they sent me a link to a great PowerPoint to use in schools and to a wonderful video as well as goodies for the children and information for children and teachers.

Before the assembly, I asked L. if he was ok with the idea of me talking about Tourettes to the whole school and if he wanted me to explain about him having Tourettes and if he was happy to attend the assembly. Not only did he said yes but he was also very keen to help me present. He decided that he would demonstrate what his tics look like standing up in front of 350 people! He must have been quite anxious about it as his first sentence to the audience was: ‘It is ok to laugh as I am just demonstrating’. This brought me to tears, he is only 9. The presentation was emotional and one of the key messages was about acceptance of differences, it being TS or any other conditions. One teacher was crying when she mouthed the word ‘thank you’ from afar.

L. was an absolute super star. I loved that he felt comfortable about it all and hopefully this has helped others being more accepted and accepting of Tourettes and of other conditions too.

That day, a little girl in his class who has Tourettes told her two best friends for the first time that she has TS.  Another little boy came to me at the end of the assembly and told me that he thought he has Tourettes – I mentioned it to a teacher. And another little girl said she had two friends who have Tourettes and she thanked me for making her understand TS and her friends better.

The teachers had all attended the assembly that day, which I was touched about and their feedback was very positive, saying it had been incredibly informative.

 

This is just a small step, and this was just 10 minutes of our lives, but these minutes counted.

They counted because L. and I did this together and presented TS with no shame, no judgement, just for what it is.

They counted as they have helped other children with TS accepting themselves and being accepted and understood.

They counted as children left the assembly reflecting on what had happened the day they had laughed at a snorting little boy a few months before and they will be more aware of differences in the future and more caring too.

They counted as K. is starting reception next year and his Tourettes seem to get worse by the day and I trust that the children at school will be caring and welcoming to him.

 

You can read another blog by Caroline about her son's experience of TS and co-occuring conditions here


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The value in school presentations

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