Term Paper: Tourette's Syndrome: How it Affects

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[. . .] The teacher needs to avoid becoming one of them for her own sake and the sake of the school itself. School systems walk a precarious path in their treatment of children, especially those with disabilities.

Another area of awareness and concern for the educator is the effects of different medications on the TS student. Because TS is so varied in its appearance, the treatments are also varied. "Two classes of drug are most widely used to control tics associated with Tourette's syndrome are a2 adrenergic agonists and neuroleptics" (Leckman, 2002). There are also specific drug regimens used to treat the associated hyperkinetic disorders and tic-related obsessive-compulsive disorders, also from Leckman. How does an educator elicit a response from a student who is groggy from medication? One answer is to engage them in helping activities such as handing out papers or helping the teacher by going to the office to pick up messages. With such a wide range of symptoms, the educator is faced with a difficult dilemma. "Teachers rated students with Tourette's syndrome as significantly more withdrawn and also as more aggressive than other students in their class" (Leckman and Cohen, 1999). Is the child's behavior due to the medication, the condition, or simply part of being a child?

A student with TS experiences difficulty concentrating. She also finds it frustrating to follow complex instruction. "The neuropsychology of Tourette's syndrome has also focused on possible deficits in executive functioning (EF), a broad domain covering planning, goal directed behavior, maintenance of cognitive set and cognitive flexibility, impulse control, sustained attention and effort, and self-regulation" (Leckman and Cohen, 1999).

The educator must respond to these deficits by directing the student in every area of learning and behavior. This is difficult in a classroom setting where there may be twenty other children present and needing attention. Additional training might be necessary for the educator to feel comfortable with the requirements of the TS student "Clearly, if we do not have highly-qualified teachers instructing students, we are never going to get the kinds of results that parents have a right to expect and Congress has the right to demand" (IDEA, 2002, pg. 16. It seems that the best situation would provide one-on-one interaction with the TS student in a special classroom setting. This, however, is not always possible for students with less than severe symptoms. There are specific guidelines a student must meet to be accepted into a special education classroom that is funded by outside resources.

Modification of the teaching method coupled with the disruption caused by TS students, increases the workload for the educator and the other students. Regardless of one's political or moral point-of-view, the fact remains that accommodating TS students in the classroom is both time consuming, difficult, and costly. Why do we do it? As educators, would it not be prudent to separate students with disabilities from the general student population?

On March 21, 2002 the one hundred seventh congress of the United States held their second session on Examining the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, As It Applies To Children and Schools. The pamphlet produced from the hearing is 77 pages long and typed in dictionary print. While this review does not have the capacity to delve into the specific and important declarations made by this document, it is critical that the document be addressed in brief. The Document details the steps made by the United States Government to insure that all schoolchildren in the United States have "equal access to education under the Constitution." In 1975 the Education for the Handicapped Act passed, "opening the doors of our public schools to disabled children."

One must read this Act to appreciate the impact of disabilities on education. Tourette's syndrome is one of hundreds of disorders that create the need for accommodation in the classroom. One may consider Tourette's as a specific example of a much broader issue. The publication contains several first hand descriptions of the difficulties faced by children with disabilities. It also cites the methods of implementation for educators to follow, and they are enormous.

Mr. Pasternack delineates the affect it will have on education in the following paragraph.

One of the things that I have learned from my trips around the country, and I am sure you are well aware, Mr. Chairman, is that many school districts are spending a great deal of money on professional development because teachers coming to them from colleges and universities do not have the skills to do the very difficult job that we are asking them to do." lofty goal, yet one that is, yet, under-funded. On page 76 of the same document, one reads, "Congress has only funded up to 15% of the cost of educating students with disabilities. Funding for the infants and toddlers program has not even kept pace with inflation." Take the example of the Cedar Rapids School District. "The school district in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had already overspent its special education budget by $1 million when the Supreme Court ruled it had to pay for one-on-one nursing for a student - adding $30,000 a year" (McQueen, 1999).

McQueen's article states that special education is one of the fastest growing costs for schools. It is a highly charged issue with the disabled student stuck in the middle. He explains that schools are torn between funding for the special education students and trying to provide adequate services to non-special education students. Also apparent from the article, is that schools are placing students into the special needs category who may not qualify. This misclassification of students inflates the costs to the school because now the school must provide services that should be borne by their parents. It is interesting to note that one example used in the article described the hardships experienced by the family of a 13-year-old boy with Tourette's syndrome.

How do we achieve the goal of "training teachers right" without adequate funding? How many need to be trained and in what areas?

On page 4 of the Act Senator Jeffords states, "IDEA services approximately 6 million disabled children." He then proceeds to note that the funding is not there. Senator Reed includes a prepared statement citing the "mounting frustration over the lack of educational resources." He feels that the "Federal Government must ensure that the state special education programs comply with IDEA." How are the educational systems to do that without the funds? Senator Gregg believes that the law intended to help students is acting as a hindrance to serving them. (IDEA, pg. 9) Page after page of the Hearing document on the Act contains the identical message repeated in bi-partisan unity and politically correct phraseology.

Robert Pasternack, supplies some greatly needed suggestions to the hearing. He speaks to the methods of accountability needed by both the Federal Government and the local educators. One very interesting suggestion he makes is to increase the universality of design principals. This would allow for less accommodation in schools. The educators are deluged with paperwork in an attempt to comply with government regulations when what they really should be doing is teaching. If IDEA could design programs to fit the needs of disabled students, the classroom would run more smoothly.

Is this possible? Half way through the hearing, Dr. Ratcliffe presented her experiences in special education. Dr. Ratcliffe is not only a mother of children with disabilities, but she is also a trained hearing officer and mediator for the State of Missouri. She has a master's degree in leaning disabilities, a degree in special education administration, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis with a focus on special education (IDEA, pg. 47) She cannot find qualified applicants to fill positions in her schools. She finds the paperwork a burden and the complexity of the regulation overwhelming. She states that educators slight their primary jobs so that they may accommodate the number of meetings they must attend. The process is not working because it is so vaguely written that it requires litigation to give it definition. She states that "Due Process is a brutal system; it paralyzes the educational system, it paralyzes individuals" (IDEA, pg. 49).

The initial focus of this review is on Tourette's syndrome and its affect on education. It describes in detail how the TS person is affected by the disorder and in turn how those affectations impact the educators' opportunity to teach. It is obvious that TS, like any other disability, would require extra time and patience from the educator. Tourette's is different in some respects from other types of disability in that the symptoms may come and go. This has to be frustrating for the educator. One day it a seemingly 'normal' student may be unable to perform a task that he has completed perfectly on the previous day. Perhaps during a fire drill, a TS student must perform some kind of ritual before leaving the room and the other children in the room want the same… [END OF PREVIEW]

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