List of all NJCTS webinars, including September 17 on getting kids motivated for school


Getting Kids Motivated for School

September 17, 2014
Presented by Graham Hartke, Psy.D.

As our schools continue to increase curriculum, testing, and workload standards, many kids and teens are struggling to stay motivated in school. These are students who do not like school, struggle to complete homework, procrastinate often, have slipping grades, are bored, say they “don’t care about school,” avoid school work, get in trouble, are disorganized and/or feel disconnected from classroom learning.

This webinar will focus on strategies parents and educators can use to increase student motivation to succeed in school. Strategies will address the causes of low motivation, learning difficulties, improving the homework process, improving organization, and reducing procrastination.


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Spotting Tourette in the Classroom, Part 2: So what’s a teacher to do?

Spotting Tourettes in the Classroom

Everyone remembers that kid in class who made weird noises to annoy the teacher. But what about those instances where the noises aren’t meant to drive the teacher crazy? Is it possible a student might be dealing with Tourette Syndrome? How do you know if it’s a Tic Disorder, Tourette, or just another attempt to annoy everyone around him? Today we’re going to discuss what teachers can do properly when they encounter Tourette in the classroom.

Once a teacher realizes the child has symptoms that match a tic disorder or Tourette, there are basic accommodations that can be made in the classroom. Some of these can be best made with IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) or in basic, quiet changes only known by the teacher and student. Here are a few good tips I’ve found:

From Northern Illinois University College of Education

  • Have a duplicate set of text books for the child to keep at home. This can help students who might have missed details of the text because of the ticcing. Just think, if your head is constantly jerking or your eyes are constantly blinking, it can be quite distracting in the classroom. You might need to go over the material again later.
  • Use a seating chart to allow for any movement tics. This is especially helpful if the child has a tic like jumping or jerking, something where she needs to move, and it will lessen the distraction to other students.

From the Newtown PAC Family Resource Center by Susan Conners, M.Ed., Education Specialist, TSA, Inc.

  • Give the child frequent breaks out of the classroom to release tics in a less embarrassing environment, e.g. the bathroom, the drinking fountain, a real or made up errand to run. It’s important to have a safe place where the student can go to release his tics, somewhere where he won’t feel embarrassed to let out the extra energy burning up inside of him.
  • Do not penalize students for poor handwriting. Provide alternatives for doing tests, assignments, etc. (orally, taped). It can be difficult to write well when your hand is constantly moving on its own accord. This is an accommodation that might be best discussed in an IEP meeting (a meeting between the teacher, any school staff involved in this part of the student’s education, such as school psychologist, counselor, principal, and resource teacher, and the parents). Continue reading

52 Weeks of TS: Week 18

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. In cased you missed the first 17 weeks, you can read them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

This was an intensely emotional week — a week of ups and downs. I started my week off receiving the horrible news that a close friend lost his internal battle with depression and took his life. A very happily seeming person, gone. I am finding it very difficult to write about this now without crying.

Besides spending all week very upset and dealing with the stages of death, I have also been trying to figure out if and how I was going to discuss this in the blog. I came to the conclusion that I was going to discuss it because it was a big part of my week. This situation brought on a roller-coaster of emotions, which then did trigger many of my tics. The stress was quite overwhelming and really exacerbated my neck and shoulder tics causing me pain all week.

Besides dealing with the death of a friend, I also had to do hair for a show with my husband’s school. Working on these shows also adds for a stressful week, but In addition to the mixed emotions I already had, I was quite excited for this show. It was the last show of the school year, which will free up a lot of my time now that it is over. I do five shows a year with the school, and each show is a hard experience for me.

I had an alright experience in high school, but dealt with a lot of difficulty because of my TS. There was constant teasing and mocking, which did not allow for the perfect high school experience. Every time I do one of these shows, I feel like I’m flashing back to my own high school days. I still suppress my tics from the kids, and often find myself hiding the fact that I have TS.

Children are cruel and I saw that this week. I also get self-conscious around the parents of all the kids. I still suppress my tics, and worry that the parents will see me tic. What would they think if they knew someone with TS was working with their children? Would they think that I’m sitting back stage screaming out profanities? We all know it’s true. Some might understand, but a majority would go to the media stereotype.

I’m only one person, and I can’t educate everyone, but I was able to conquer my fears and help someone out.

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European Multicentre Tics in Children Study

A new study will explore the onset and worsening of tics and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in children and adolescents.

The study, underway at TANDeM (Evelina Children’s Hospital), University College London Hospital & Great Ormond Street Hospital, will explore the onset and worsening of tics in children and adolescents (aged 3-16 years old).

This European Commission funded study is called EMTICS — European Multicentre Tics in Children Study. The aims of this research are to better understand tic disorders and the factors, such as genetics, stress and anxiety which may affect tic worsening.

It is also investigating the involvement of the immune system in the onset of tics, which has been known as the Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS) hypothesis. Currently, it is unknown whether PANDAS play a role in the development of tics and Tourette Syndrome, and this is the first study to investigate children to see if this is related to tic presentation. The study may include unaffected siblings of children with a tic disorder in this study to find out more about the familial onset of tics.

This study will run for up to four years and participants will be required to have regular hospital appointments to see how the tics change over time. You will also be contacted via telephone between hospital visits to follow your progress. You will be asked to complete questionnaires and to donate hair, throat swabs and blood samples throughout the study. Parents of children with tics, and unaffected siblings without tics are invited to participate.

If you are interested in taking part, e-mail Martin Woods or call 07920246200.

52 Weeks of TS: Week 17

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. In cased you missed the first 16 weeks, you can read them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

The brain is often compared to a super computer — the body’s computer, which not even the smartest person has been able to duplicate. Computers get viruses that attack their systems, and just like a computer my brain has a virus called Tourette Syndrome. I’m not saying that Tourette syndrome is a virus, I’m just trying to explain how I feel. I feel like there is a virus attacking my computer/brain, and no one has developed an antivirus. Computer specialists find antiviruses for computers just as fast at the virus is released, but we are still here waiting for some type of fix for our body’s computer.

Doctors try to give us a pill. Is this our antivirus? Well let me tell you something, you had better get back to the drawing board because it’s not working. I’m on Week 4 of my medication trial, and honestly I don’t feel much of a difference. As I have described in the past few weeks, I have been off my normal schedule, working on many different and stressful freelance jobs.

This week I am finally starting to get my normal schedule back and this is also the week that I have reached my full-prescribed dosage of my Klonopin. Three .5 mg pills a day, one when I wake up, one in the afternoon, and one at bedtime. Guess what? I feel the same, I’m still as anxious as usual, and crazy stressed out.

I was somewhat hopeful that this new medication regimen would relax me without making me into a walking zombie. I’d love to be more relaxed but I really think it is impossible with anxiety disorder, and I’m really getting sick of people telling me to, “Just relax!” I swear one more person tells me to relax, I’m going to punch them in the face.

Imagine you’re stuck in traffic on your way to the airport and you’re cutting it close to missing your flight — that’s how I feel. Imagine you’re strapped to a bungee cord about to jump over a bridge to the rocky cliffs below — that’s how I feel. Imagine that second before you’re about to get into a car accident — that’s how I feel. It’s a non-stop nagging feeling that won’t go away. Twenty-four hours a day, I’m always worried.

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