Executive director calls education package useful tool for teachers
Tourette Syndrome Foundation
of Canada to launch video,
handbook for school boards

The executive director of a national organization that supports people with Tourette syndrome hopes an educational package about the neurological disorder will be well-received in Ontario schools.

In January, the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada will launch a package of resource materials including a handbook, workbook and video about Tourette syndrome. The foundation is targeting school boards and ultimately wishes a package will be available in every Ontario school, says Rosie Wartecker, executive director of the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada.

“We know it will make a significant difference,” says Rosie.

The release is timely given the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner’s concerns about the fairness of the Safe Schools Act towards students with disabilities and visible minorities. For example, under the Safe Schools Act, principals can expel children who bring weapons to school and suspend others who swear in class.

Tourette syndrome is a neurological or "neurochemical" disorder characterized by tics -- involuntary, rapid, sudden movements or vocalizations that occur repeatedly in the same way, according to the foundation's website. Sometimes motor tics, characterized by involuntary comments, may cause a child to use inappropriate language, like profanities, in the classroom.

Rosie says the education package “puts it all into perspective. These children don’t get up in the morning with the intent of upsetting the apple cart,” she says. “There is a responsibility and accountability but it’s on both sides. It’s going to make a much happier classroom for everybody.”

The handbook addresses simple adjustments teachers can make that mean all the difference for a person with Tourette syndrome, Rosie says. The thorough 80-page handbook outlines behaviour issues, how to approach Tourette syndrome in the classroom and the importance of multi-disciplinary support teams, among other things. The video is a day-in-the-life portrayal of a boy with Tourette syndrome.

The foundation is making the finishing touches on the kit and hopes to launch both English and French versions by the end of January. The cost to school boards will be around $50. “It’s something we’d like to see in every school board,” says Rosie.