Here’s twelve-year-old Dylan’s third post (you can read the others here and here). It’s a moving and thoughtful account of his transition to secondary school. Please do share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below.
This week’s blog is more serious than my first two – this time I’m leaving the jokes to Jack Carroll (Britain’s Got Talent runner-up). I would like to talk about Tourettes and going to school but in particular the move from primary to “big” school.
My first few years at primary school went well – my tics didn’t impact on my school life as much as they do now. I was lucky to have the same teacher for years 3 and 4 which meant she got to know me and had an understanding of how Tourettes impacts on school life. It all went a bit “Pete Tong” in year 5 as school got a bit harder then and my Tourettes moved from being moderate to severe. During the summer between years 5 and 6 I had my first “Superwax” which involved me harming myself, ending up with a trip to A and E. During my last year of primary I managed just one week of full days. If I did get into school for a full day of lessons it meant that the next day I didn’t go in at all. The big factor during this time was the medication – mum says “It was a pay-off between controlling the tics and being heavily sedated.”
Going to secondary school is a big deal for any 11-year-old. You go from a smallish school with say 300 kids to a school having nearly as many kids as that just in your year! Times that by the five academic years in an average school and you have an idea of how big secondary schools are. Then there is not being in the same room for most lessons, and all the other changes that being in secondary school brings.
My transition to secondary school started well. I did manage to make the “Look round” day with the other kids that came from my primary school. I was both nervous and excited about starting secondary school. During the summer holidays I attended the year 7 induction day, which went well.
In September I started school with everyone else. I attended on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the first week. However, on the Wednesday night I started a screaming tic which was me letting out a high pitched scream for three whole days and stopped me from attending school. During the first month of secondary school I managed some more half days but my eye darting tic meant that I had to be collected at lunchtimes. Around the same time I developed a head banging tic which meant that I was admitted to hospital, as these constant head banging tics meant I harmed myself and those around me. At the hospital I took a load of tests, I was given respite and I tried many different medications to control my tics. When I left hospital there was a period of approx. 12 weeks trying to recuperate, and my mum says during this time we did we did try a reintegration plan to get back to school, and I did achieve some lunch hours.
In January 2013 the Health Related Education Team arranged for one-to-one tutoring for me. Depending on what happens tic-wise, I either attend these sessions at school with the Health Related Education Team Tutors, or if I’m having a bad day we do the sessions at home. My tutors are Dave (aka “Big Dave”… on account of his height) and Jonathan (aka “Health Related Idiot”…. on account of him asking if I had a nickname for him!). There are plans afoot for a more long-term solution to my education….watch this space….
So that is my story so far. Mum, dad and I would love to hear from anyone else who has experiences with Tourette’s and transitioning to secondary school, your experiences, and how you manage the day-to-day.
Tic of the week is “I am a vanilla monkey dog”, which is a mash up of the following tics:
Did I tell you I had homemade vanilla ice cream at La Tasca a few weeks ago?
I must apologise for Health Related IdIot’s spelling of Grandad last time (he does the typing) …I have given him lines “Grandad is spelt Grandad”, and I must say sorry to my Grandad (now in Australia doing time! Only joking!) who of course is called Grumps, not Grandad… or Health Related Idiot’s version, Granddad!