2 Books That Can Help Children Understand Their Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome Awareness

From May 15 to June 15 the families and friends of individuals affected by Tourette syndrome (TS) help raise awareness of this often misdiagnosed and misunderstood neurological disorder. Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month is set aside to help others understand what makes these people “TIC”.  As a mother and grandmother of individuals with Tourette syndrome I know first had how important it is for peers, friends, and even health and educational professionals to know more about TS.

What is Tourette Syndrome?

TS is a disorder that affects the nervous system. It is the baffling disorder that makes individuals have movements and vocalization they cannot control. These are called motor or vocal tics. It involves unusual repetitive movements or unwanted sounds like repeatedly blinking your eyes, shrugging your shoulders, jerking your head or barking like a dog.

 Unfortunately additional mental, emotional, or behavioral conditions are often associated with Tourette syndrome. Individuals often say the tics, if they are on the mild side, are not as difficult to live with as the accompanying ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, etc.

Tourette Syndrome Books

The following are three resources about Tourette syndrome. Brynn’s Bizarre Behavior is a children’s book for a child with TS or for classmates or friends to know more about what a child with TS is going through. Nix Your Tics! is for tweens or teens with TS and it is written by Dr. Duncan McKinlay, the psychologist with Tourette himself.  My third recommendation is for you to read an awesome interview I had with Dr. McKinlay.

Brynn’s Bizarre Behavior:
A Look at 8 Year Old Brynn’s Life with Tourette Syndrome

by Danica Surette

Brynn’s Bizarre Behavior: A Look at 8 Year Old Brynn’s Life with Tourette Syndrome by Danica Surette Brynn’s Bizarre Behavior is a true account of 8 year old Brynn’s life. We read about this child’s good days and the bad days that come with living with Tourette syndrome (TS). Ms. Surette says being her daughter’s advocate, and realizing the need for children’s books on Tourette syndrome, she began her newest chapter in life. Her new focus is educating children and adults about TS, and all that it entails.

Teachers and youth groups can share this book in reading circles with kids aged 8 to 12 years. After the shared reading, it lends itself well to have discussions on TS so friends will understand and accept their friends with Tourette.  The mom-author shows how difficult things can be for Brynn:

“Tics are like a sneeze,

quick and it comes out.

Sometimes it’s a quiet noise

and sometimes it’s a shout! “

Any child with TS will love to read about another child like him.  They will easily relate with Brynn as she ends her story with,

“Sometimes I’m sad I was born this way,

Different from others like night is from day…

…but I’m smart, and I’m growing, and funny as can be.

  I thank God each night for making special me.”
Read the complete review here.

Nix Your Tics! Eliminate Unwanted Tic Symptoms  A How-To Guide for Young People

by Dr. Duncan McKinlay
Nix Your Tics! Eliminate Unwanted Tic Symptoms  A How-To Guide for Young People

Dr. McKinlay, the psychologist with Tourette himself, is the perfect mentor for all families looking for guidance about all things Tourette! His self-help guide book, Nix Your Tics!, will motivate individuals with Tourette syndrome to follow his steps to get rid of bothersome tics one at a time.

While reading his book, I love the way Dr. McKinlay “has a casual chat” with the child with Tourette syndrome, just as if they were sitting on the family couch. His message is upbeat and he delivers it with humor. The 144 page pocket book is very easy to read and recommended for ages 12 and older. Readers will appreciate the handy back-of-the-book information, summaries of the steps mentioned, worksheets, blank note taking space and lists of great resources.

He shows the normies’ (regular “normal” people) point of view about tics and how the normies’ good brake systems work. For many kids with Tourette, this might be the first time this is explained to them. The message he conveys is that normies can be okay once you understand them, and once you have given them a chance to understand you.

Dr. McKinlay arms the individual with TS with tips on how to tell normies about TS and tics, which will, in turn make their life better. Throughout Nix Your Tics!, Dr. McKinlay takes every opportunity to build their self-worth. The author points out the flip sides of Tourette. He points out, “People in our club who have done exceptionally well in life, and shaped our world and history in some magnificent ways.”  Dr. McKinlay is one of these individuals.

Read the full review here.

Interview with Dr. Duncan McKinlay: Tourette Sydrome, Work, and Book, Nix Your Tics!

Duncan McKinlay, Ph.D was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome (TS) at the age of nineteen, however, like many other individuals who receive a late diagnosis, he knew something was not quite right by the age of a seven.  Dr. Mckinlay reaches out to families and youth struggling with Tourette syndrome through his work, publications, presentations, wonderful web site, and by interviews like this one.  He not only helps the families he works with, but also in how mental health professionals in Canada and beyond understand and treat TS.

In this interview he shared many strategies and information about living with Tourette syndrome.  One interesting thing he explains is the passionate reactions he routinely gets from teachers who attend his presentations. Educators who approach him afterwards are either in tears, quite angry, or eagerly anticipating the next time a particular student will be in their classroom.  Each of these reactions is explained to him in the exact same way: “Why didn’t someone tell me all this sooner?!”

A great place to learn more about TS and find support is by joining the open group created by Dr. McKinlay on Facebook called Nix Your Tics! Treatment for Tourettes.  Dr. McKinlay tries to answer all the questions about TS posted on this page.
Read complete interview.

Lorna d'Entremont
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  • Nicolas DeSarno

    I love this especially when you have TS and you can relate to these people.