Returning to School with TS during COVID

back to school updated

It can be difficult for children with Tourette Syndrome (TS) and the co-occurring conditions to handle transitions and changes in their daily life, and transitioning back to school can be particularly hard.  Historically, the start of the school year can lead to an increase in tics, anxiety or other TS-related symptoms, however, with the additional stress and uncertainty of COVID during this upcoming 2020 school year, things can feel particularly overwhelming. highlights some of the common worries that parents have during this time. It is important to start planning ahead for this upcoming transition in order to ease the anxiety of getting back into school. 

Here are some of the basic strategies that might be helpful when returning to school in the fall of 2020.

  • Meet with teachers beforehand to discuss expectations and changes
    • Initiate or modify a 504 plan or IEP
      • Having an updated and reviewed educational plan to address the unexpected changes with the school year is important. Reviewing the Tourette Association of America (TAA) accommodations for TS and staying up-to-date with recommendations from the TAA can be particularly helpful during this time. Work closely with your healthcare team to receive the appropriate accommodations that will benefit your child, both short-term and in the long run.
    • Work with your healthcare providers on return to school strategies
    • Review ways to follow precautions without alarming your student
      • Returning to school in 2020 will look very different than years past. Changes to classroom organization, structure and rules can be challenging for children living with TS.  Unicef  and Additude Magazine offers some ways to discuss some of these potential changes with your child in productive but informative ways.
    • Return to routine
      • Summers can be fun with free time and lots of play activities, however, in order to transition back to school, it is important to start establishing a routine with structured wake, eat, play and sleep times to prepare your child for returning to school. For example, researchers recognize that sleep is often a challenge for children with TS, so creating a good sleep schedule and good sleep hygiene habits before starting school will be helpful. Or working on increasing tolerance to a face mask is critical for in-person learning. Adding in the transition from virtual schooling, experts understand that this upcoming school year will bring increased challenges, so preparing early is important.

Planning ahead, while managing anxiety related to the upcoming school year can present a challenge. However, with the right support from healthcare providers and educators, a smooth transition is possible.

About the Author


Heather Simpson, OTR/L

Heather Simpson graduated with a B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science with a minor in Early Education from the University of Florida in 2007. Following…

Read all articles by Heather Simpson, OTR/L