Teaching isn’t easy. But can someone with Tourette’s be a teacher?
It is entirely possible for someone with Tourette’s Syndrome to be a teacher. Tics may pose a challenge, however an employee is protected by the Disability Discrimination Act- in the UK at least.
This would also be a great way to raise awareness for Tourette’s Syndrome, with children seeing first hand what it is like to live with the syndrome.
Tourette's can be protected under the Disability Discrimination Act
This does depend on severity. As tics aren’t voluntary, it would be discrimination to deny a job based on tics.
However, there are many grey areas when it comes to Tourette’s and employment. For example, tics involving obscenities or punching may be considered inappropriate in a class of young children.
This is why honesty about tics and how they manifest is important early on, although severe tics would probably be hard to supress at the interview stage.
This teacher has Tourette and the students are fully supportive
Natalie is a primary school teacher and was featured in the Channel 5 documentary Teacher with Tourette’s.
Natalie has been labeled a ‘true inspiration’ for handling the condition in her line of work, and received support from her pupils.
Despite this, there have been reports that some teachers have found her vocal tics uncomfortable, leading Natalie to take lunch breaks in the classroom.
Documentaries like this can only lead us to hope that there will be more awareness and respect moving forward.
Some teachers made fun of the condition
I remember three specific occasions when teachers openly made fun of Tourette Syndrome.
Two didn’t know I had it, thanks to having mild tics and the stereotype that Tourette’s is a ‘swearing disease’.
One teacher asked a kid ‘do you have Tourette’s or something?!’ after he cursed in class. All the kids laughed along.
Another shouted ‘who’s making weird noises?!’ When I let out a subtle vocal tic.
In a huge breach of trust, one teacher even told the class that I had Tourette. My friends younger brother came home one day and asked whilst I was at his house ‘do you have Tourette’s?!’
I asked how he knew. It turns out this teacher told the class after speaking to my parents one day about my condition, in the hope it would give her a better understanding. Instead this teacher made me more self conscious than I already was.
If teachers can help kids understand in a more productive way, the future will be a little brighter.
There are probably more teachers out there with Tourette syndrome
There are most definitely many teachers currently teaching with Tourette, or another tic disorder.
Because tics vary so much within the community, some teachers will be able to teach with minimal problems.
With the current belief that 1 in 100 children has Tourette, some of these children will have tics through their teens and into adulthood.
The more teachers we have proudly educating the next generation about tic disorders, the more acceptance there will be in society.