View Full Version : Son's teacher telling him to stop doing his tic

02-13-11, 09:32 PM
Hi, My son has ADHD and although he hasn't been diagnosed with Tourettes, he has a tic. Basically it's pulling his collar or shoulder of his clothes in a jerking motion a few times. He does this when he's nervous or excited, or is trying to complete a difficult task. Anyway, a psychologist we have seen says it's a tic, as he's not aware he is doing it. My son's tic began at the age of 2 years old, he's now almost 8.

Every new school year his teacher will ask me about the tic. The teachers always seem to think it's very unusual, and they are worried about it. They think he will be teased, and I get the impression that they're just not happy he's doings something they see as weird/abnormal.

My husband and I worried about it for years, but we've decided there's just no point worrying about it, because he can't stop doing it, and it doesn't bother him. Last time I asked him if he's been teased about it, he said no, one of the kids in a higher year level even said that it looked cool. I explained this to his teacher, but since then, my son has come home saying that his teacher (who is more strict that other's) is telling him to stop doing his tic.

Just wondering what anyone else's view would be regarding this? I'd especially like to hear from someone who has grown up with a tic such as this. Is there any point in teaching him to sit on his hand or something with he's doing written work? Is it best just to leave him doing it if he doesn't see it as a problem?

02-13-11, 09:37 PM
No not if its not intefering w anything or1.bringing attentiontoo it will make ity worse

02-13-11, 09:39 PM
Speaking as a teacher, I think you should contact the teacher, tell them it is a tic he is okay with, and tell them it will be very upsetting if you make him feel negative about something that does not bother him.

I don't know if you can stretch it to being part of his disability. If you could, then the teacher would legally have to back off. You can't tell a child with Autism not to flap. You have to work around it.

That is the best advice I can give. I don't have experience with teachers responding to tics. I also just saw you are in Oz. I don't know much about the school system or federal protections your son would have. I would still start by contacting the teacher. If they won't back off, I would ask for a formal teacher-parent meeting and progress up the chain of command from there.

02-13-11, 11:41 PM
Can you get a note from the doctor saying this is not a voluntary thing?

02-14-11, 12:55 AM
I agree with Rebelyell. You can work on tics and sometimes improve them, but the classroom is not the place to do it.

And it's most certainly not the teacher's job to try and "discipline" a child for a motor tic. That's like telling a diabetic to start producing her own insulin, or else. Quite frankly, if it's been explained to the teacher that this is a tic, I'm appalled by his/her response. I second Harrier's advice on dealing with the issue.

02-14-11, 02:55 AM
gunna have to agree with pretty much everybody here on this.. its an involuntary tic that his psychologist is aware of, a dr's note regarding this to the teacher should be enough. Not that it should have been an issue0 before, it most certainly shouldnt be an issue after..

i might also send a copy of the note (from the psychologist) to the principle for their records aswell, in case there (for some reason) is a continuing issue with the teacher, which there shouldnt be.

I wouldnt really make anything more of it than that.. after that you should be able to expect that it will be a non-issue.


02-15-11, 04:00 PM
I would get documentation from your doctors that this is a tic to present to your son's teachers.
If the teacher continues to bother your son about it after this then i would see if can move him to a different class with a more understanding teacher.

02-15-11, 04:37 PM
Foremost, get a doctor's note, and send copies to the teacher, principal, counselors, and others you think should know. In future years, I would present the doctor's note first thing in the school year to all his new teachers.

If the teacher continues treating him like that, I would do everything I can to move him to another teacher. You don't say where in Australia you are, but at least in South Australia, your son is legally entitled to school accommodations for Tourette's, and if the teacher continues treating him like that, that is legally considered discrimination. Here ( is a case about it.

In my experience, things work out better if you do things pre-emptively. Although he may not need accommodations, you can set up a meeting with the school to discuss potential accommodations should he need them. We all hope it doesn't get serious enough to require that, but if he does need accommodations in the future, then the ball is already rolling.

Plus, the school may be more willing to agree to accommodations if you frame it as, "We don't need these accommodations now and don't think we'll need them in the foreseeable future, but we wanted to talk with you about courses of action just in case his symptoms become impairing enough to require accommodations". If you wait until it becomes urgent, the school not only has the upper hand but also may try to give you the legal minimum (or even less) because they feel lazy and don't want to think about having to do something immediately. If you frame it as a distant possibility, it's less concrete, and they are more likely to be like, yeah that's okay, we can do that.

Another pre-emptive action is to request specific teachers for the following year that you think will be more understanding. If you don't know, ask around about certain teachers. If he had an understanding teacher in the past, ask him/her to recommend someone for the following year. If someone seems sympathetic to the diagnosis, ask him/her. If the special education teacher at his school is good, ask how teachers have treated special needs students. I don't mean to imply that your son needs special education, but rather than teachers who are good with special needs students are more likely to be patient and understanding of your son.

When you have a recommendation, request that teacher early so they're more likely to grant your request. Plenty of parents request certain teachers, especially the ones with good reputations, and you want to be ahead of them. When you have the assignment, perhaps send the teacher a message informing them of the condition and providing some classroom-relevant information.

02-15-11, 05:11 PM
Speaking as a teacher, I think you should contact the teacher, tell them it is a tic he is okay with, and tell them it will be very upsetting if you make him feel negative about something that does not bother him.This.

04-16-11, 05:54 PM
Thank you very much for taking the time to post everyone. I don't think my son's teacher is telling him not to do the tic, but I'm sure it annoys her as she has told him since then that he flaps like a bird, she's got me getting him assessed for aspergers (which may be a good thing) and when I tried stopping my son's strattera she wrote a note in his diary that his tic was worse. By looking through the classroom window at pick up time, I've noticed that he does do his tic a lot at school. Poor thing, his anxiety is worse than his teachers I'm sure. Funnily enough, when I asked my son if anyone has teased him about his tic, my son said an older kid at school told him it looks cool! Hehe. I actually told the teacher that, she sounded surpised and said oh, that's great!

If his tic annoys the teacher, I can understand as my husband has this really annoying noise he makes that drives me around the bend, and my other son makes lots of clicking noises with his tongue that drives my ADHD son (with sensory, including noise sensitivity issues) around the bend! I'll make sure I address the matter though if I hear she's telling my son not to do his tic, as it's unreasonable to ask him to stop, that's for sure.

On another note, the teacher has spent a lot of time trying to adjust the air conditioner in the class room so that the noise doesn't bother my son, so I have to give her a lot of credit for that :)