Help! No Teachers are Trained to Work with my Son

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My 10 year old son has Tourettes/OCD.  His teachers do not understand his disability and what he is going through in class.  They have no idea about inner tics.  Their main concern is proper position of words on a page. They are not trained to effectively work with him or teach him. His IEP meeting is in a week, what do I do?

What do you do? Turn to what IDEA says about support and training for school personnel.

IDEA envisions services that are provided to the parents or teachers of a child with a disability to help them to more effectively work with the child – that’s why “supports for school personnel” was included in this section of the law.

Supports for School Personnel

This does not just mean participation in normal inservice training that all teachers get – but targeted directly on assisting the teacher to meet a unique and specific need of the child.

The school may need to bring in an outside expert in TS to train the teacher and provide consultation services about how TS affects your child.

This training or support for the teacher must be written in the IEP – clearly designating who will train, when, how much, etc.

So do your research and be prepared when you meet to revise the IEP.

You will find answers in Chapter 5 Wrightslaw: All About IEPs and your Wrightslaw Special Education Law book – 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A) and the federal regulations 34 C.F.R. 300.320(a)(4).

Tools for Effective Advocacy

You will also want to use your best advocacy skills when you meet with the team.

Use the Colombo / Miss Manners approach instead of “insisting” that the teachers are “clueless.”

Review all the advocacy strategies in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy.

Attorney Susan Bardet says “By making sufficient use of support for school personnel and parent training, IEP teams can use the tools provided by IDEA to help children succeed.”

For more information on how to do this, be sure to read this article by Susan – Support For School Personnel and Parent Training: Often Overlooked Keys To Success.

  1. I agree that there is so much that teachers are not trained for and one would assume — but the reality is different. If school personnel are not familiar with a disability or do not know how to work with a child with a disability, there are resources for school districts through state education centers. The centers, as well as the state, can provide expert guidance and give support to the staff so the child can be successful as well as provide training opportunities. It is unfair that a teacher is expected to know everything. However, a teacher should have support from adminisrators to provide gudiance, extra classroom support, staffing and consultants to help a child succeed. Some teachers have informed me that they have been refused training opportunites to work with special ed. students. They must pay on their own.

  2. please tell me what is a related service provider? is a speacial ed teacher a related service provider? Thank you this information can help me.

  3. Go to for a lot of good info and to make connections with your local TS chapter. That said, it took 6 MD’s, 2 Phd’s, and 1 family counselor to figure out that our son had TS/OCD/ADHD. Hidden disabilitites are HARD and often beyond the average teacher training. Don’t give up….our son is in college, became an Eagle Scout, and has lots of friends who know he has tourettes. The outcome will not be perfect….but the love you invest in the advocacy for your child is the most perfect gift the parent of a child with a disability can give. Good luck!

  4. I completely agree with the issue of the teacher not being educated on your childs disability. I have a four yr old daughter who is autistic and ADHD. We are from a small school district and only have one certified special ed teacher, and my child is the first in history of our school to have this disability. They took her out of a classroom setting because she was disruptive to the other students. If the teachers only knew what she was going through, or even listen to the advice we have given them that is working for us at home. My meeting is today and I am hoping that all my issues will be addressed and some of the teachers will get educated on autism.

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