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Tips for helping affected students

Tourette Syndrome workshops

Cara Metz

Connors (inset) addresses those who attended the Oct. 20 meeting, including (from left) Irma Rosa-Cardona, Itka Besser, Blerta Borici, Valentina Dhima and Julie Lay.

Pat Arnow

Giordano (right) gets help with an exercise from Ann Mackey, an ATR.

Tourette Syndrome, the neurological condition that causes people to make repeated, quick muscle movements — called tics — or sounds that they cannot control, is getting needed attention from UFT members. At an Oct. 20 Special Education Committee meeting, 200 teachers heard career educator Sue Conners survey the problems children with Tourette face in class. She also discussed ways to mitigate problems for both the child and others in the classroom. On Nov. 7, more than 80 general and special education teachers filled a conference room to hear Kathy Giordano, an education specialist with the Tourette Syndrome Association, advise them on creating strategies that manage students’ tics. Both sessions, at UFT headquarters, stressed how teachers are positioned to recognize the symptoms and integrate the student into classroom activities. They can do that, Giordano said, without stigmatizing the child or labeling such students in need of discipline or — as has happened — police intervention. “Punishment-reward doesn’t work with children with Tourette,” Giordano said. Michelle Arellano, a District 75 teacher in Manhattan, said, “In my 30 years in the classroom, I haven’t seen one child properly diagnosed with Tourette. We probably have these kids in our population, but they haven’t been diagnosed.” If your school is interested in having a presentation on the subject, contact the New York City chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Association by emailing chapter@tsa-nyc.org or UFT Vice President Carmen Alvarez at calvarez@uft.org.

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