Parents and teachers alike want the best for their children. This is why it can be difficult to understand when a child has a tic disorder, especially if you've never experienced one before. As a mom and a Children’s Holistic Health expert, I know how important it is to educate those who spend so much time with our children on a daily basis.
Tics are involuntary, repetitive body movements or sounds that people make. Tic disorders can be embarrassing and disruptive to a person's life. They may also be exhausting if they're severe enough and the tics can interfere with daily activities like schoolwork. For these reasons, it is important for parents to know so they educate teachers on how to properly respond to students who have tic disorders.
Tourette syndrome (TS) is an example of a neurological disorder that causes both motor and vocal tics. It is common for people with TS to experience periods when their symptoms are more intense followed by times when they may not experience any symptoms at all or even see their symptoms disappear altogether without ever knowing why this occurred. This means that sometimes children will have no outward sign. For this reason, it is important for parents to be on the lookout and carefully observe their children.
Tics can come and go or change in severity over time as well. Symptoms may include jerky movements of the head, face, arms, or legs. Vocal tics can also be part of Tic disorders and often include sounds such as throat clearing, sniffing, or breathing noises. Tics may be subtle and not obvious to other people; some might only notice the child’s posture is different than normal for them. Tics are most noticeable when they occur continuously for an extended period of time (hours or days). A Tic is not something that most children can control and some teachers may find them disruptive to their class. Tic Disorder is not a sign of poor behavior and the child should not be treated differently. Tics may vary depending on the person; it is helpful to learn different coping strategies that work best for that individual. Tic disorders may also be associated with depression, anxiety, and focus problems, but are more commonly associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
School is hard enough for most students let alone when a child has a Tic Disorder. Teachers need to understand how Tics impact both the student and their academic performance. Children with tic disorders may be bullied or treated as outcasts because of their uncontrollable movements. Tic disorders can be disruptive in the classroom and can negatively impact grades when educators do not fully understand the scope of what the child is experiencing. Tics may sometimes inhibit a child’s ability to perform well academically, but parents should not use Tic Disorders as an excuse when their child’s academic abilities do not meet expectations.
How can teachers help children with tic disorders in the classroom? Tic Disorders are not uncommon and teachers should be aware that children can learn many simple techniques to help cope with the disorder. Tics can be a complex issue, but here are some ways teachers may be able to support the child and their learning:
Children with Tic disorders also need regular physical activity. PE and playground time are essential for all students especially children with tic disorders
It is important for children with Tic Disorders to practice stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises every day. Alternate nostril breathing is an easy technique that teachers can use to refocus the entire class not just students who may struggle with tics.
Frequent breaks with movement may be necessary but that just might benefit everyone in the classroom.
Some Tic Disorders are temporary, but others last for longer periods of time. By having a better understanding of what a tic disorder is and how it impacts the student and the classrooms; Teachers can support children who experience Tic Disorders by being understanding and supportive in the classroom.
It is also important for teachers to understand that parents and their children are also tired, frustrated, and overwhelmed by their diagnosis. Most parents spend endless nights researching the best approach to help ease their child's symptoms. It is heartbreaking to see your child struggle and yet you feel helpless as a parent.
Many parents and teachers find themselves in situations where a child is experiencing an "episode" and it is difficult for them to understand what the child is going through. It can be difficult to know how to help any child when they are experiencing something you've never experienced before or don't fully understand. That's why we work so hard at educating those who spend time with our kids on a daily basis. We all want the best for them! If you have questions about tic disorders please reach out to me here!