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– From PA School –

“Special needs” needs acceptance

May 20, 2020Teachers

Finding out you’re the parent of a “special needs” kid is a bitter pill to swallow. But, once you get over the initial shock and sadness of it all, you move on. Because that’s what your kid needs you to do.

Griffin was formally diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when he was just 5 years old. It started with the sweetest little blinky thing he did with his eyes, the same as his Oupa used to do. But within two days he was pouting and grimacing and shrugging his little shoulders non stop. We had no idea what was going on.

Fortunately, our journey was blessed with incredible support, specialists and advisors along the way, and we were able to react quickly and appropriately.

May is Tourette Syndrome Awareness month, and Griffin and I decided a long time ago to use this “thing” (note NOT disability) to educate and help others. So we thought we’d share a bit about it with you:

  1. Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder and is often hereditary.
  2. It is prevalent in boys.
  3. Presents as recurring “tics”, which come and go and change all the time.
  4. These “tics” are involuntary movements or sounds (or sometimes both!) which cannot be controlled or suppressed.
  5. There is no cure.
  6. Usually presents between the age of 5 and 18.
  7. Many famous and successful people have it like Billie Eilish and David Beckham.
  8. When the brain is “engaged” the tics tend to disappear – which is why sport has been such a great help.

While there are various kinds of medications that may be used to try treat it, we have found that enough sleep, managing stress and lots of exercise really help manage the tics.

The most important weapon we have against this strange disorder is understanding and acceptance.

Since day one at Port Alfred School, we were met with incredible love and support. Mr Clive Pearson (former Headmaster) and both the grade 4 teachers at the time (Mr Murray and Mrs van der Merwe) helped Griffin (and me) cope with some nasty tic attacks in class, but, more importantly, also encouraged support and caring from his classmates.

Something which will stay with me as a “special needs” mom forever.

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