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Tics in class

Posted Tue 28th Mar 2023 at 12:16
by Lily Maguire


From personal experience by TS Champion Lily Maguire.

Click! Pop! Squeak! If you were in my classes this is probably what you’d hear with a bit of swearing thrown into the mix, giggles from me typically as I find myself hilarious. I mean, school is typically one of the most challenging things for me and many others with Tourette’s. You have so many people who are typically very uneducated in your condition, a dead silent classroom so ticcing in lessons is very awkward for most people.

Tourette’s is so mis-represented by the media - everyone has a warped view of what it is vs what it actually is. Most of my teachers deal well with me making background noise due to them either doing research in their own time or asking me relevant questions so they can understand my struggles to their best ability but there have been a few that have a view on Tourette’s and see me as disruptive or an attention seeking young person. I think a lot of people think having Tourette’s means just having these uncontrollable movements and noises but there is normally so much more to it than that.

Personally, I struggle with keeping my attention on anything I do. My mind is working 10x faster trying to remember what I’m doing, what the teachers are telling me, holding my tics in to not annoy anyone and trying to write down all the information being thrown at me. But one of my teaching assistants found a great way for me to manage workload. I will have my work and whilst listening to my teacher I will just doodle on a notebook or scrap piece of paper to keep myself occupied. It's funny that something as simple as drawing can help me stay in my seat and stay focused!

I think though one of the best parst for me about having Tourette’s is howcreative I am. Art is my favourite lesson as I love to draw and when I’m so concentrated and invested in something, I don’t tic as much. I’ve found this is the same for many students, doing a subject they enjoy they tic less mainly due to the lack of stress and pressure.

I think all schools should be a lot more educated on tics and Tourette’s due to the fact it’s not as uncommon as you may think. 1 out of every 162 students in the UK right now have tics of some sort. Simple knowledge or training could make all the difference for a child with Tourette’s as they can sort of relax knowing you have some knowledge on what they may be experiencing. If you’re a teacher reading this, my one bit of advice is be patient. We are trying to figure out what’s going on just as much as you are, so ask questions on how to help, try to give techniques and mechanisms to help your student with their tics in class as they can be very off-putting environments. Another thing is if the student is ok with it, maybe give a little talk to your class about Tourette’s or tics so the students are aware of what said student is doing as I will admit it can look abit funny ticcing and shouting out inappropriate phrases while learning trigonometry. Not my proudest moment.

I hope this can help some people get their head around what’s its like going to school with tics from someone with tics.

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Tics in class

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