A student with Tourette Syndrome has certain education rights and accommodations, these include a 504 Plan, an Independent Education Plan (IEP), as well as laws advocating for children with special needs such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a special education law, and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a general education law. For an IEP, the child must first be determined to be a “student with a disability’ as defined in IDEA.
Before developing an effective support plan, there are a few important factors to keep in mind:
Be prepared: The Tourette Association suggests that the education team read the article titled Understanding Behavioral Symptoms in Tourette Syndrome: TS is More than Tics prior to developing a plan. This article provides a brief overview of many of the related difficulties that are common for students with TS. Also see information about Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
Include the Student: The student is an important part of the team and should be included in as much of the planning as possible. If the supports do not make sense or are not considered helpful to the student, then he or she probably will not use them and the plan will not be effective. Additionally, students are more likely to respect a plan that they helped to develop.
How to Prepare for a Successful School Year
Communication is key for the following reasons:
- Communication with family members is important for developing a collaborative relationship that is essential to the success of students with TS.
- Members of the team need to communicate about the effectiveness of the plan and modify it when necessary. Any factors that might impact the student should be shared among team members. For example, medication changes may result in new or different symptoms and the team should be made aware when these changes occur.
- The team should monitor strategies to ensure they do not increase anxiety or other symptoms.
Creativity is essential in identifying strategies that might be most helpful to your student. Each student is unique and may benefit from a strategy you may never have tried, or thought to try, with this or other students. Therefore, it is important to have a discussion with the student regarding what he or she believes might be helpful. Pay close attention to his or her thoughts on why strategies may or may not help because the student’s insights can be instrumental when tweaking or developing strategies.