27th October 2000 at 01:00
TOURETTE SYNDROME: A practical guide for teachers, parents and carers. By Amber Carroll and Mary Robertson. David Fulton pound;15

Tourette syndrome is a relatively rare condition in which the most common symptoms are "tics", involuntary motor movements and vocal noises. A smaller number of children show inappropriate behaviours, including shouting or swearing.

Meeting the needs of such a child presents teachers with many questions and challenges. These are considered in this guide through two models: medical and educational.

The majority of information about treatments focuses on medication. Although this lacks relevance for teachers, the descriptions of the side effects may prove useful. Anxiety, difficulties in concentration and restlessness can be some of the direct results of drug treatments. Another possible side effect is tardive dyskinesia, which includes involuntary grimacing and eye rolling and can continue after medication has ceased. Is it enough simply to state that tardive dyskinesia "is rarelyof discomfort to the individual experiencing it, and is more often distressing to the onlooker ..."?

As the second half of the book notes, it is usually the reactions of others to their behaviour that children with Tourette syndrome find most distressing. The educational half of the book provides an excellent framework for meeting the needs of these pupils. It addresses the major problems faced by children and their teachers and shows how they may be resolved. Ways of tackling peer rejection, class disruption and barriers to learning are well explained and illustrated.

The first part of the book concentrates on what makes these children different from others. However, the strategies shown in the second half apply equally well to any child who might feel "apart" from his or her peers, if not all children. This is a practical, inclusive approach that could well inform the PHSE curriculum of the whole school.

Kieron Sheehy is a lecturer in inclusive and special education at the Open University

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