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How to Stop Kids With Special Needs From Being Bullied

How to Stop Kids With Special Needs From Being Bullied

Q: How Can I Help My Child Who is Being Bullied in School for Having Tourette Syndrome?


Most of the bullying children encounter in schools stems from ignorance and a lack of acceptance of those who seem “different.” Unfortunately, children with Tourette Syndrome, Tic Disorders, and other disabilities often find themselves a target for bullying, especially since TS continues to be a largely underdiagnosed and misunderstood disorder.

The first step toward combatting ignorance is education.

Meet with your child’s teacher and ensure that she is aware of the bullying and fully supportive and understanding of your child’s unique needs. It’s important for education professionals to know that a child with TS is not being disruptive or “rude” when they exhibit tic behaviors in the classroom. Many peers, and even some teachers, don’t realize the motor and vocal tics that children with TS experience are involuntary and cannot really be controlled. Ask about any appropriate classroom accommodations.

Also, be sure to check out support groups in your community where you can seek advice from professionals and other parents with similar experiences.

RELATED: Find local support services for families living with a special needs diagnosis.



Treatments are available including effective behavioral management approaches. Reducing tic severity may go a long way to improve a child’s overall functioning.

Once you know that the school staff is doing everything they can to create an accepting and appropriate environment and you've worked with a professional to improve your child’s tic severity, see if there is a way to empower your child to speak out. Many TS advocacy organizations, such as the Tourette Association of America, have resources and programs that can help to provide important educational information for children, teens, parents, and school personnel. Under the right circumstances, it might be reasonable for the child to directly address their classroom and talk about a day in the life of someone with the disability, or put on a presentation to the school that could lead a larger discussion about tolerance, but especially for those who have a tic disorder.

RELATED: Get local family events suited to a complete range of abilities and interests, including special needs.

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John T. Walkup, M.D.

Author:

Dr. John Walkup is Professor of Psychiatry, the Vice Chair of Psychiatry, and Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Walkup is Chair of the Medical Advisory Board of the Tourette Association of America, and he serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Trichotillomania Learning Center and the Anxiety Disorders Association of America and the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

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