Sun, Feb 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Tourette Syndrome kids need more assistance

STAFF WRITER

Legislators yesterday called on the government to play a more active role in the schooling of kids suffering from Tourette Syndrome, many of whom are not even aware that they may have the syndrome.

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that sets in during childhood and is characterized by tics, or involuntary, rapid, sudden movements or vocalizations that occur repeatedly in the same way.

Democratic Progressive Party legislators Chen Ying (陳瑩) and Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) told a press conference that about 10,000 school-age children in Taiwan suffer from the syndrome at the rate of one in 200 boys and one in 1,000 girls.

A fifth-grade student named Wen-hao (文豪), who suffers from the syndrome, was also present at the conference.

Chen said that before the age of five, Wen-hao liked to read and draw like any other kid and could stay calm for periods longer than two hours.

Changes started to occur though when Wen-hao turned six or seven, when he couldn't seem to stop himself from touching other people. In his first year in school, Wen-hao was also prone to teasing other people. At the age of 10 to 11, he had problems concentrating and began to fall behind in school. Wen-hao was finally diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when he was in fourth grade.

Wang Hui-hsiung (王煇雄), a doctor and chairman of Taiwan's Tourette Syndrome association, said that Tourette Syndrome is not an illness but rather a diagnosis of a symptom and behavior or a characteristic.

The condition will not be treated by medication unless absolutely neccessary. Encouraging children to exercise to release their energy can often help ease the symptoms, he said.

Wang went on to say that a third of people with Tourette Syndrome usually recover during their teen years, another third do so when they reach adulthood, while some may have to live with it for the rest of their lives.

Wang added though that as long as patients learn how to release their energy, they should be able to lead normal lives.

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