Tourette’s, Turrets, TourectsDecember 5, 2009
(Just a short comment this time.)
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I once read on an IEP that a badly behaved, and occasionally explosive, student that I taught was thought to have “mild Tourects”. More recently, I read on the SEN register that there was a query as to whether a student had “Turrets Syndrome”. As usual I tend to assume that if something happens more than once to me at more than one school then it is probably happening at plenty of other schools too and so it might be worth commenting on.
For those of you who don’t know, Tourette’s syndrome is a neurophysical disorder where people manifest physical or vocal tics. In a minority of cases the tics can take the form of coprolalia, the uncontrollable exclamation of offensive words. There have been a number of television programmes about this type of condition, and it has entered popular culture to the extent where people have heard of the condition but are likely to think it always involves coprolalia. And this is where it gets involved in the SEN racket. Obviously, genuine cases of Tourette’s would, no doubt, be a special need and might need special help in some cases. However, the condition is rare enough that I have never taught a genuine sufferer and it would be pretty low down the list of conditions dealt with by SEN departments in schools. Unfortunately, the idea of people who cannot stop swearing has caught the public imagination. Unfortunately, the SEN systems in many schools are run by people who have neither any academic or medical education in neurophysical disorders, nor the common sense to look up these conditions on Wikipedia before attempting to diagnose them. All it takes is the fact that they have heard on the TV of a condition where people cannot stop swearing but it is not their fault. Now finding excuses for not holding children responsible for their actions is a major part of the purpose of the SEN racket. If you don’t know anything about Tourette’s, not even how to spell it, it sounds like a dream come true. Jordan and Lee didn’t swear at the teacher because she tried to make them work and they didn’t want to and had no fear of the consequences, they did it because they had that condition off of Big Brother.
There is no quality control for IEPs or SEN registers. Any old crap can be put on them. Even misspelt, misinterpreted conditions are acceptable. This is then passed on to teachers. Now some teachers, maybe a minority, read books. We have seen the word “Tourette’s” written down. We even have a rough idea of what it refers to. But we still have to pretend that if we get sworn at it might be a symptom of a condition, not a morally wrong act, because the SEN department has more power than we do. In the process people who have a genuine medical condition are going to be forever associated with badly behaved kids who choose to swear at teachers. There really is a little too much truth in this: