One of the most important things the TSFC does for the TS community is the In-Service Program. We send trained in-service presenters to speak at schools, workplaces and beyond about Tourette Syndrome and its associated conditions. In-service presenters educate school faculties, students, co-workers and fellow community members, providing everything from a clear understanding of the disorder to classroom strategies to lessons on tolerance and much more. This week, we profile some of the wonderful people responsible for this incredibly valuable service.
I became an in-service presenter about eight years ago, just a year after my son Peter was diagnosed with TS. I had resigned from being Assistant Principal to homeschool Peter and though I enjoyed it, I sometimes missed interacting with students and teachers. Becoming an in-service presenter seemed like an excellent idea. It turned out to be even more fulfilling than I imagined. With every in-service I delivered, I improved. I got better at structuring my presentations, facilitating empathy exercises, talking without rambling, and using PowerPoint. My son started accompanying me as “tech support”, and soon began fielding questions and giving a talk about “the worst ways to help someone with TS” – always a big hit. After years of presenting, it is the audiences’ reactions that touch my heart and motivate me to continue… …like the teacher who cried as he hugged Peter and said: “I had no idea. I’m so sorry that I haven’t been more patient and understanding in my classroom. Thank you for giving me this gift today.” …like the tall, muscular grade six student who stood up at the end of our presentation and apologized to his much smaller classmate with TS for the way he’d behaved, and then asked in a trembling voice if maybe they could hang out together sometime. I’ve done in-services for all sorts of people from teachers and students to cadets and social workers, even office workers and a whole hotel staff. I love it! A few years ago I had the opportunity to become a certified trainer of in-service presenters. It is so gratifying to equip others to take part in this very rewarding activity. Giving an in-service is like a tossing a pebble into a pond: you never know the ripple effect you set in motion. To learn more about becoming an in-service presenter in your community, please contact Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org.