Most children with Tourette Syndrome do well in mainstream education - indeed many are high achievers. But that is not to say they don’t have some problems.

For other children, accommodations need to be made in their mainstream school. For a minority, transfering to a school catering for children with Special Educational Needs is the best option. Some parents opt to homeschool their children

Problems vary from child to child but may be tic-related, or due to anxiety or attentional problems etc. Many children with TS suppress their tics at school, which demands concentration - the result of which is that they often miss out on, at least parts of, the lesson.

Sometimes, a child at school will need additional help with educational problems. Children with TS, often have other associated disorders which can interfere with the child’s education. Initially, speak with the child’s teacher - it’s imperative that you get the teachers on side. As we all know, TS can be very misunderstood. Teachers, like the rest of the world, often know and understand very little about TS. Perhaps all that is needed is an explanation - of TS, but most importantly, of your child’s TS. Each child is different. For us, it proved most helpful to write an account of my son’s particular strengths and difficulties. It’s just as important to emphasise the child’s talents, as their problems. (Children with TS are often gifted and talented - it’s sometimes easy for onlookers to only see the difficulties, and not the positives.) The TSA UK publish literature and have videos to help educate the school staff (and the child’s peers), although the teachers may tend to pick up on the most severe symptoms - which your child may not experience. Individualise the information that you give the school. Having the teachers and other school staff on your child’s side - having their support and understanding - may be all you need to do. See Letter to Schools - sample letter. Your TS specialist could also become involved - either by writing to the school, or visiting the school.

Once the school are aware of any problems, there are additional measures they can take, such as an extra classroom assistant, extra time during timed tests, time out of the classroom as a break for the child (and perhaps for others in the classroom if tics are disruptive), lesser amounts of homework but covering the same amount of the required syllabus, taking exams in a separate room or using computers rather than writing by hand.

However, if your child’s symptoms are causing great concern, and/or if the school prove unsympathetic, then there are other options. Contact your Local Education Authority and let them know that you believe your child’s educational needs are not being met. You may request a Statement of Educational Needs - the process of which is outlined below.

There are 3 (reduced from 5) stages in the Statementing process, depending on the level of support required in school.

A team of professionals will need to become involved and agree the help required. They will feedback to you, the parents. The parents will be invited to attend meetings with all those involved. The result of this process should be that the family is able to access the most appropriate education or school for the child. This may mean extra help in the present school. It may mean a personal assistant teacher for the child in the mainstream school, or perhaps a place at a special school. Sometimes the LEA (Local Education Authority) decides not to issue a “Statement”, but will issue a “note in lieu of Statement”.

Stage 1

The teacher discusses their concern with you, the parents.

Stage 2

If the school assesses your child as having a particular concern, they may involve the school’s special needs co-ordinator. The school should discuss an Individual Education Plan (IEP) with you, and clarify which targets are being set, and the extra support required.

Outside help, such as an educational psychologist may be brought in. Other professionals such as occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, doctors and specialist teachers may also be involved. The IEP will become more specific about the help your child requires.

Stage 3

There may be a Multi-Professional Assessment (MPA), when everyone (including the parents) meets together to discuss your child. You may request this at stages 2 if you feel your child’s needs are not being met, by contacting the Local Education Authority.

The Education Authority must then decide whether to issue a statement. You will receive a copy of the draft statement. You can challenge the draft or appeal if no statement is issued.

In the first 2 stages, the child will almost always remain in the mainstream school.

There are regular reviews at all stages, in which you are invited to participate.