Getting Help at School

Kathleen Giordano, Education Specialist

It is common for a child with TS to need some modifications or accommodations in school; some children may need special education services while remaining in the general education setting. By sharing information and resources with the school, parents of children with TS will help the school have a better understanding of their child. When parents are able to develop positive working relationship with school personnel, they are able to advocate for their child more effectively when and if increase support or services are necessary.

Information & Resources

AN INTRODUCTION TO YOUR CHILD

  • Many parents have found it helpful to provide a one page description of their child.
    Begin by writing a brief paragraph that introduces your child and his/her positive attributes so that the teachers see your child as a student who HAS difficulties rather than a child who IS difficult.
  • List challenges and what strategies or supports have been effective in the past.
  • Attach a picture of the child enjoying a favored hobby or activity.
  • Provide your contact information.

AN INTRODUCTION TO TOURETTE SYNDROME

 

SPECIAL EDUCATION GUIDE FOR YOUR STATE

Contact the school’s guidance office to request a PARENT’S GUIDE TO SPECIAL EDUCATION issued by your state’s Department of Education. (Every state may name it something different.) This will assist you in understanding your child’s rights and show you how to go about setting up the appropriate supports.

  • IEP, 504, SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES
  • For your child to be found eligible for an IEP (Individualized Education Program), he/she must require special education services. Special Education services most often can be provided in your child’s general education setting.
  • If the IEP committee determines that your child is eligible for an IEP, the category of OHI (Other Health Impairment) is to be used – Tourette Syndrome has been listed as a disability under that category by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Achieving passing, or even good grades, does not necessarily mean that your child does not qualify to receive either a 504 Plan or an IEP.
    When speaking with school personnel, use the word “appropriate” when referring to ‘education’, ‘supports’, ‘placement’, etc. as this is what they are legally required to provide.

Initial Contacts with Your Child’s School

INITIAL CONTACTS WITH YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL INFORM THEM OF YOUR CHILD’S DIAGNOSIS

Meet with school personnel to let them know that your child has TS and any other related difficulties. This is an important legal first step in ensuring that effective supports are provided.

REQUEST EVALUATIONS

If you suspect that your child requires either accommodations or modifications from a 504 Plan or special education services from an Individual Education Plan (IEP), you will want to send a dated letter (keeping a copy for your records) requesting that a complete education evaluation be conducted in order to determine your child’s areas of strengths and weaknesses. You will want to list all suspected areas of difficulty which should be evaluated. See sample letter below.

 

SAMPLE SCHOOL LETTER TO REQUEST EVALUATIONS

Date:
Dear ______________,
My child, ________________, has recently been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome by Dr. ___________. Tourette Syndrome is a neurological condition which frequently is accompanied by other disorders. My child has also been diagnosed with (e.g., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety, Sensory Integration). I am concerned about the impact that these factors are having on his/her educational performance and social emotional well-being.

I am, therefore, requesting that my child be evaluated by the school psychologist or other appropriate professional/clinical school personnel as the first step in seeking appropriate supports so that my child may receive an appropriate education.
I am requesting that the evaluation include the specific areas of concern listed below: (These are only a few examples. Include all areas in which you, as a parent, have a concern even if you don’t know the proper name for the difficulty. You can just describe it.)
1. Written Language
2. Executive Function
3. Processing Delays
4. Memory
5. Paying attention
6. Organization
I am including a letter of diagnosis from the treating physician and some materials from the national Tourette Syndrome Association to be shared with my child’s teachers and the school psychologist. In the interim, I will be more than happy to meet with school personnel working with my child to discuss any signs or symptoms that (he/she) may be exhibiting in the classroom as a result of this diagnosis and what educators can do to assist (him/her).
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you soon and to working together with school personnel to provide an appropriate learning environment for my child.

Sincerely,

 

WORKING WITH SCHOOL STAFF

  • Prior to the beginning of every academic year or school term, request a meeting with teachers to provide them with resource materials, establish a working relationship, and answer any questions the staff may have.
  • At the first sign of your child struggling in school academically or socially, you will want to speak with your child’s teacher to determine how you can work as a team so that your child can be successful.
  • Keep documents, records, notes and information regarding meetings and phone conversations in a file for future reference.