Thursday, 23 May 2013

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month...

Did you know that May 15th - June 15th is Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month?

What is Tourette syndrome?

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. The disorder is named after Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a pioneering French neurologist in the 1800s. Tourette syndrome becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence before the age of 18 years.  Tourette syndrome is defined by multiple motor and vocal tics lasting for more than one year.  The first symptoms usually are involuntary movements (tics) of the face, arms, limbs or trunk.  These tics are frequent, repetitive and rapid.  The most common first symptom is a facial tic (eye blink, nose twitch, grimace), and is replaced or added to by other tics of the neck, trunk, and limbs.

          These tics occur as involuntary actions, usually outside the patient's control. The tics may also be complicated, involving the entire body, such as kicking and stamping. Many persons report what are described as premonitory urges -- the urge to perform a motor activity. Other symptoms such as touching, repetitive thoughts and movements and compulsions can occur.

          There are also verbal tics.  These verbal tics (vocalizations) usually occur with the movements.  These vocalizations include grunting, throat clearing, shouting and barking.  The verbal tics may also be expressed as coprolalia (the involuntary use of obscene words or socially inappropriate words and phrases) or copropraxia (obscene gestures). Despite widespread publicity, coprolalia/copropraxia is uncommon with tic disorders.

          Neither echolalia (echo speech) or coprolalia/copropraxia is necessary for the diagnosis of Tourette syndrome.  However, for a confirmed diagnosis of TS both involuntary movements and vocalizations must be present.  Echo phenomena are also reported, although less frequently.  These may include repeating word of others (echolalia), repeating ones own words (palilalia), and repeating movements of others.

          Although the symptoms of TS vary from person to person and range from very mild to severe, the majority of cases fall into the mild category. Co-occurring conditions can include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/ Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD/ADD), impulsivity, and obsessive compulsive behavior.  There is usually a family history of tics, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  Tourette Syndrome and other tic disorders occur in all ethnic groups.  Males are affected 3 to 4 times more often than females.

           A child with Tourette Syndrome in the classroom may bear the outward appearance of a child with behavior problems: defiant, stubborn, emitting sounds, displaying unusual physical mannerisms, unwilling to cooperate. He or she may be disciplined for things he or she cannot control and given low grades for things he or she cannot accomplish. They are probably teased and sometimes imitated by other students.

          Most people with TS and other tic disorders will lead productive lives.  There are no barriers to achievement in their personal and professional lives.  Persons with TS can be found in all professions. It's important for people to be aware and to get informed about this condition to avoid unnecessary stigma. It's also important educate both patients and the public of the many facets of tic disorders.  Increased public understanding and tolerance of TS symptoms are of paramount importance to people with Tourette Syndrome.


Thursday, 16 May 2013

My Passion for Special Education...

"Faith makes all things possible. Love makes all things easy."

 -Dwight Lyman Moody

As a Special Education Professional, I love to teach students who have special needs. These special needs may include Autism Spectrum Disorder, various behavioral, emotional, or physical developmental issues, or just difficulty in learning. I use various kinds of unique teaching methods and tools (which are research-based) to be able to get my student to learn. Using ordinary teaching methods such as the alphabet or addition may not work fully with these special students. In many cases, their learning might include how to speak, how to play with toys or other children, how to dress themselves or use the bathroom, etc. In order to know what tools to use or what approach to take, I must first evaluate the needs of the child.

Evaluation involves special tests, observation, and discussions with other significant adults in the child’s life. Once the needs of the child is determined, a plan is made and carried out either in a private one-on-one session, or in the classroom. I may use special teaching aids with pictures, or special toys that help the child develop muscles or create certain activities that help engage the child in the task at hand. I also observe the child daily to determine the level of progress being made, and I usually compile a chart with my findings to share with the parents, therapists and other teachers the child may have.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Autism Awareness Seminar in Lafia, Nassarawa State, Nigeria

The Emmanuel Igoniwari Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation in Nigeria, organised a seminar/lecture on Autism Awareness in Lafia, Nassarawa State on 27 March 2013. I was there to speak on Autism. The event was covered as shown in the following photographs.

Some of the audience actually had either a child or a relative living with Autism, but my attention was drawn to the keen interest exhibited by the attendees in general.  I was very delighted that my answers to some of their questions gave them renewed hope and even inspired others to seek to know more about Autism and other special needs that people cope with.

Photo of me delivering my lecture.

Photo of me making a point.

Adelola Edema a fellow guest speaker.

L-R: Lola Aneke and Adelola Edema  

The organisers and other participants.

Various participants listening with rapt attention.

Participants during the interactive session.