Redefining the Mainstream: Local Government, Inclusive Communities

The Second National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism, Immigration and Human Rights


Dr Jeni Wilson
Melbourne University
Bradley Shrimpton

Managing Diversity: Reflections of Tourette Syndrome Sufferers

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a debilitating neurological disorder characterised by diversity: diversity of symptoms, diversity in severity and diversity of responses by teachers, families and individual sufferers. The impact of people's responses to involuntary vocal and motor tics of TS can be devastating for sufferers and their families.

TS is not discriminatory, it can occur across all races and socio-economic groups (Wodrich, 1998). Tourette Syndrome is not well diagnosed, therefore estimates of suffers vary enormously. Despite the diversity of the syndrome, it is common that children with TS experience personal distress, reduced self-esteem, social problems (Stefl and Milton, 1985) and school failure (Wodrich, 1998). Most of these children are at risk of becoming, or being classified as learning disabled.

This paper will present data from a large Victorian and NSW qualitative study on Tourette Syndrome. The focus will be on raising public awareness about the range of symptoms, and the diversity of approaches used by children, families and their teachers for managing TS. The results raise interesting questions and challenges about what is 'normal' and socially acceptable behavior, the rights of TS students, and the impact of schooling on the self esteem and success of students. Strategies used by participants in this study are presented.

Presentation Type
30 min. Paper


Deakin Woolstores Campus, Geelong Waterfront
30 November - 1 December 2001