Students of all ages shared their stories as part of the National Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month on social media to help raise awareness about the neurological disorder, which usually becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence.
The awareness campaign, which ran from May 15 to June 15 and sponsored by the Tourette Association of America, was symbolized by Teal Tuesdays. The campaign suggested five ways to raise awareness, including encouraging those who have or have loved ones with the disorder to educate others by sharing their personal stories, as well as facts about the disorder.
Tourette Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by motor and vocal tics—involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations. It’s part of a spectrum of tic disorders that are most often diagnosed in childhood. The symptoms can be mild to severe, depending on the individual, with some symptoms changing or disappearing for periods of time.
Some of the more common tics include facial movements, eye blinking, tongue clicking, sniffing, and throat clearing. Tic disorders are distinguished by the types of tics an individual has and for how long.
To be diagnosed with Tourette, an individual will have had at least two motor tics and one vocal tic for more than a year.
Tourette Syndrome and other tic disorders affect one in 100 students, with more than half of those students having a co-existing condition. Accompanying conditions such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety can affect how students learn.
If students then also have learning disabilities, their ability to focus is affected even more.
Parents and educators can work together to help students succeed and thrive in and out of the classroom. By recognizing symptoms early and putting support plans in place, students with Tourette Syndrome can get the help they need and feel comfortable in school.