Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movement and vocalizations called tics. Children with Tourette syndrome cannot control their tics and do best in a controlled environment free of distractions. Tourette syndrome does not necessarily affect intellect or academic potential, according to Northern Illinois University. In fact, some people suspect the composer Mozart and the writer Samuel Johnson had Tourette syndrome. Giving your child the opportunity to focus her mind through various activities can help her maintain focus and help her brain develop.
Creative activities are an engaging way to help your child focus. Try hiring a music teacher who has experience teaching children with special needs. Michael Wolff is a U.S. musician and composer with Tourette syndrome who your child might enjoy listening to because they share the same syndrome. Painting and writing are other creative outlets that are beneficial to your child's brain. Set up an easel in a sparse corner of the room away from distractions and let your child experiment with brushes and paint. For writing, keep your child's desk area clear of everything but the writing utensil and paper. Some children might do better typing at a computer, depending on their tic.
When your child is concentrating on a high-energy activity such as a sports game, he might experience fewer tics, and when he does have them they can be milder and less frequent. Tim Howard, a professional goalkeeper for the U.S. national soccer team, controls his Tourette symptoms by focusing on the game and what he needs his body to do. Register your child for high-energy sports like soccer or basketball where players are in fairly constant motion. The concentration required to focus on the game might help your child focus in other areas, as well, and give him a break from his tics.
Dealing with Tourette syndrome often makes your child more compassionate toward those with other types of disabilities. Volunteering is a way for your child to get involved with others. Your child can choose to help others with more advanced forms of Tourette syndrome such as those who have rare self-harming behaviors. Getting involved with others with disabilities provides your child with a support group of people who can relate to her difficulties. Because your child is a positive force in the life of someone else with a disability, it can also increase her self-confidence and lessen her own self-consciousness about her syndrome.
Just as becoming engrossed in a sport or creative activity can help your child focus his mind, finding a hobby can be an equally beneficial endeavor. Let your child explore hobbies to find one he enjoys. Tailor your child's options to his tics. For example, a child whose tic is excessive eye-blinking might do well during a woodworking class while it would be dangerous to a child with an involuntary arm jerk. Visit your local hobby store for ideas. Your child might enjoy working puzzles, building model cars or painting ceramic figurines. Find a hobby that your child can become passionate about so that he can fully concentrate on the activity, encouraging brain development in the process.
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