The “perfect” ending to the school year

One of the biggest internal struggles that parents of special needs children face is when…and how far…to “push” your child. Your goals are usually the same as any other child…to be happy, make friends, have others in their lives who love them and treat them well, get through school, and be as independent as possible. How you get them there can be the most complicated part.

One of my best friends is the most successful coach in college gymnastics. One of her many gifts is the ability to motivate and inspire…which doesn’t mean holding your hand…it involves giving you a little kick in the pants at times. In going through our most difficult years with our son, she was one of the only people I talked to about all that was going on here at home.

I was scared, and depressed much of the time…and frankly a lot more unsure of myself and down in the dumps than I had been before…thank you for hanging in there with me! I had young children, all my family lived at least 15 hours away, my husband was busy with a crazy job, and I was a NJ girl living in the south…I didn’t quite fit in. She became my family…my mentor, the voice of reason, and my best friend.

To sum up what I learned from all of my conversations with her…when you have a child that struggles, you can’t focus on the excuses. Your focus has to be on visualizing what they need to accomplish and get to work. For a child who has a health issue, it’s important to start early by educating them on their disorder, their treatment, and how to manage it…from appointments with Drs – to getting out and taking their own medication.

The world is not going to be kind to them at times, and they are going to get knocked down…that’s just a part of life. What children need to learn is how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.

Sounds simple…far from it.

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7 strategies for highly successful teens

Vanessa Van Petten is the founder, CEO and lead writer for Radical Parenting.

Hi! Happy New Year! I’m so excited to announce a new life-changing program I have created for teens. In this fun, entertaining and inspirational talk I go over the 7 strategies for highly effective teens. This is nothing like your typical high school presentation. Here are some highlights:

  • Groundbreaking research insights about the teen brain and behavior
  • Hilarious and inspiring videos
  • Immediately applicable action steps to motivate and encourage teens from all levels
  • Relatable stories for teens to feel engaged and understood

I can’t give too much away, but in this talk we delve into both the lighthearted and serious issues teens face including:

  • Effective communication with peers, parents and teachers
  • Mastering the online environment — preventing cyberbullying, staying savvy online and building a digital reputation that lasts
  • School — life balance, reducing stress and finding the right outlets
  • How to have healthy relationships with the important people in a teen’s life
  • Planning for the future, smart college applications, resume building and finding your life passions

I am stoked about this new talk and have already booked out January, February and March at High Schools, youth conferences and Parent groups around the US. Please contact our manager Lynn Campbell for pricing and date availability at manager@radicalparenting.com.

Find out if we might already be coming to your city! And yes, of course, we have tween, parent and teacher versions!

Invitation to participate in Tourette Syndrome dissertation research

PLEASE NOTE: TSParentsOnline, the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS), and its directors and employees assume no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, objectivity or usefulness of the information that follows in this blog post. None of the stated parties endorse any part of this post. It is merely being posted here for informational purposes only at the sole discretion and responsibility of Caitlin Kilmer.

My name is Caitlin Kilmer and I am a fifth-year clinical psychology doctoral student at Immaculata University. I am in the beginning stages of my dissertation and am conducting a study examining anxiety, stress and executive functioning in children 7 to 17 years of age with Tourette Syndrome.

I am inviting you to consider participating in my study. In order to participate, your child needs to be between the ages of 7 and 17 years of age and have a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome. Child participants may not have a diagnosis of intellectual disability, serious mental health disorder (e.g., bipolar disorder), serious behavior disorders (e.g., conduct disorder), sensory impairments (e.g., blindness, deafness) or a major neurological disorder.

The study consists of a packet of information that you will receive in the mail. The packet will contain a consent form, an assent form, three questionnaires, a sheet to log tics, as well as a stamped return envelope. You will complete the consent form as well as one questionnaire. Your child will complete an assent form and two questionnaires.

You or your child, depending on age, will keep track of the frequency of his/her tics on a provided form for a one-week time period. After the one-week time period, all forms are to be placed in the stamped return enveloped and mailed back to the researcher. For participating in the study, your name will entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift card.

If you are interested participating in this study, I welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you by phone or e-mail. In addition, I would be happy to provide any further information you may require in order to make a decision; please contact me at ckilmer@mail.immaculata.edu or 610-457-9880, or my dissertation chair, Dr. Marie McGrath, at mmcgrath@immaculata.edu or 610-647-4400 ext. 3437.

Thank you for your time.

Happy Father’s Day!

It’s rainy and chilly outside. Unusual weather for this time of year in the Northern Panhandle, but I don’t mind. I’ve mentioned several times how my mum has been a great help to me throughout my years in dealing with Tourettes. I’ve talked about how she’s supported me, guided me, taught me to stand up for myself, etc., but today I want to talk about my dad.

Whatever mysterious gene that Tourette Syndrome comes on came from his side of the family, along with OCD. Several of the oddities that I’ve experienced over the years, he’s gone through himself. Having TS can be very lonely when you’re the only known one in the family who has it, so it’s kind of cool when we find something else in common.

Throughout my college career, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve experienced some prejudices that I didn’t know how to or couldn’t deal with on my own. My dad has come to class with me when I felt like I couldn’t be alone, and he’s gone to bat for me when someone wouldn’t give me the accomodations I needed or didn’t seem to “get” that having Tourettes can be difficult and can sometimes make certain everyday activities hard to deal with such as: ticcing in public, standing or sitting still for long periods of time, being quiet, sensory processing, etc.

My dad, my mum and various other peoples have been responsible for the ongoing process of learning to be comfortable with myself and my tics and being able to stand up for myself. I don’t believe in being quiet or sitting on the sidelines while someone gives me a proverbial beating. I don’t always know what to say, but, chances are, someone else does.

The important thing to remember is each time someone sticks up for me and/or I stick up for myself, and promote Tourette Syndrome awareness, I’ve gained another notch in my belt of advocation. Being an advocate can be something as simple as telling someone you have Tourettes, because you’re showing that you’re not ashamed of who you are.

I had one incident at a place of employment when I was a sophomore in college where a supervisor got upset with me for calling home because my tics were so bad that I couldn’t be still for a second and I didn’t know what to do. This was also during a time when I was less than OK with expressing my tics in public. When I tried to explain that I had obtained permission to call and that I had TS, he refused to listen and told me to go home.

Try as I might, I couldn’t hold back my tears. My mum who was on the phone this whole time listening to the exchange told my dad what was happening and within 15 minutes he was up there speaking on my behalf to the man who had committed the transgression. If it hadn’t been for my dad that day, I don’t know what I would have done.

In closing, I just want to remind everyone that everyone out there who has Tourette Syndrome or knows someone with does is covered under that American Disabilities Act. That means no one is allowed to discriminate against you because of your disability.

HAPPY TOURETTE SYNDROME AWARENESS MONTH!!!

With my college graduation coming up in three days, this seemed like a good time to share a couple stories. Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted for a week, but that’s because I was getting ready for this week’s post and of course GRADUATION. Yay!

Going through college with Tourette Syndrome has definitely made for an interesting ride. All the hard work I have put into my college career has paid off, but it hasn’t always been easy. I won’t say it hasn’t been without its rewards, though.

When I first started college, like most students, as freshman at West Liberty University I was living in the dorms just trying to acclimate to my new life. I had been going through a couple years of suppression where I had worked so hard to disguise my tics, that I couldn’t tic if my life depended on it.

This was all due to feeling humiliated at anyone seeing me tic, as many of them can be unsettling or distracting. It was as if that part of my brain had temporarily gone somewhat dormant to the point that if I did feel the need to tic, it felt alien and I almost couldn’t. (I don’t recommend this) Continue reading