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When my son was 5 and sitting on the couch with me, learning to read, I said to him "Buddy, you've got to stop making that noise, it's rude; and PLEASE sit still for a minute, you can’t read if you’re upside down!" Our path from this point to the time of diagnosis was full of confusion, uncertainty, self-doubt, standing up for my child, standing up for myself and my husband, and generally feeling a bit lost. When the diagnosis finally came it was a relief, but not a magic wand. All those feelings remained, but at least we had a direction to travel. Tourette Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Learning Disability, Sleep Disorder, Anxiety, Sensory Sensitivity… It’s an overwhelming list.
Not that all those labels came at the same time. It’s all been a roller coaster ride that we remain on to this day. Our son is now 13 and I can honestly say that every decision we’ve made has been painfully difficult. In grade 4 we pulled him from mainstream school and put him into a school specializing in kids with learning issues. In grade 7 we pulled him from there and brought him home where I have now become his teacher. We’ve had to decide about medication, how to manage sleep, how to deal with bullying, how to deal with isolation… the list is long.
Our path with him has been so different; we jumped off the mainstream ‘raise a child’ scenario a long time ago. And since no guide book popped out after he did (wouldn’t that be great?), I feel like we are constantly making things up as we go along. We have floundered, cried, argued, advocated, questioned, read, sought help, listened, and made decisions to the best of our ability. We have lived every loss and heartbreak with him, hanging onto his roller coaster in a desperate attempt to settle it down, ease out the sharp turns, and be there for him. Sometimes it is hard to breathe.
Support and education. That is how we have made our way through this. We have good friends and family who believe in us. And we continue to educate ourselves. Going to this conference is about continuing to understand, expanding our knowledge, and helping us be the best parents we can be. Dr. McKinlay is someone who can provide a unique perspective – not only is he an expert in working with kids with all different kinds of impulse control issues, but he has grown up with some of them himself. He has his own story.
At this workshop I’m looking forward to being inspired, being reminded, and learning new things. Dr. McKinlay has an excellent reputation; I’ve never met someone who wasn’t excited by what he had to say. I think I’m most looking forward to hearing him speak about recognizing the difference between behaviours that are purposeful and behaviours that are a symptom of impulse control issues, or as he refers to them: leaky brakes. He will also have new strategies and tools for working with kids with leaky brakes, and I am always open to having a new strategy in the tool kit.
At the end of the day I want to feel excited for my child. I know that we are on a journey and there are a million hopeful paths we can travel, but sometimes it is helpful to be reminded. I highly recommend coming to hear what Dr. McKinlay has to say. Everyone’s story is different, but coming together in a place of understanding, with a speaker like Dr. McKinlay, is an opportunity to learn, grow, and feel understood and supported.
Please note the workshop mentioned in this blog post took place on October 23, 2013. Please find below a recording and powerpoint presentation from the event.
Dr. Duncan McKinlay, who has Tourette Syndrome himself, provides new strategies and tools to support children and families living with “leaky brakes” (impulse control challenges). He will explain how to recognize the difference between behaviours that are purposeful versus behaviours that are symptomatic of leaky brakes. Dr. McKinlay currently works in “The Brake Shop” — a service he created for youth with Tourette Syndrome & associated disorders at the Child and Parent Resource Institute in London, Ontario. A powerpoint of this presentation can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/mxk65eh