I Can’t Stop! – Tourette Syndrome

I Can’t Stop! – A Story about Tourette Syndrome

Holly Niner, Author

Meryl Treatner, Illustrator

Albert Whitman & Company, Fiction,  2005

Suitable for: Ages 5-8

Themes: Tourette Syndrome, Tics, Bullying, Understanding, Friendship

Opening/Synopsis“Stop winking at me,” Nathan said.  “But you were winking at me,” his sister retorted. “Nathan, you’ve been doing that all week,” Dad said in his you’d-better-stop-yong-man voice.  Nathan squeezed his eyes shut, but when they opened, his lids fluttered like butterfly wings.”   Within a few weeks the blinking had stopped.  But then Nathan began sniffing and annoying other students.  This pattern continues.  Once his sniffing stops, his head starts snapping and it hurt.  Even Josh, his best friend, calls his behavior “creepy.”  The other students laugh and make snide remarks to Nathan.  Even his mother is annoyed.  Nathan responds, “You don’t get it, Mom!  My body won’t listen to me.”  His parents take him to a specialist who diagnosis Nathan with Tourette Syndrome (TS) and explains his many symptoms.  Nathan has many challenges ahead of him as he learns techniques to manage his tics, and deal with the kids at school.  Nathan isn’t going to let it get in the way of his living.

Why I like this book:  Holly Niner gives such an honest and accurate portrayal of a child who struggles to gain control over a body that won’t listen, and a family who doesn’t understand.  It is the perfect book to read to a child who is newly diagnosed with TS and feels frustrated and alone.  Niner provides factual information and simple suggestions to show how Nathan can work with his TS symptoms.  There are very few books available for kids with TS.  Kids will be able to relate to Nathan and many of the same facial and verbal tics.  Treatner’s watercolor illustrations are colorful and expressive in showing Nathan’s tics.  Nathan is very resilient and comes to grips with Tourette’s.   You find yourself cheering for Nathan.

Activities:  In the front of the book, there is a note to parents and teachers from a neurologist about Tourette Syndrome.  This is a good book for classroom discussion.   Tics are very common in  children.  The tics can be mild habit like nose-twitching, hair-twirling, blinking or more severe with neck and body jerking and barking.  Education is the best tool.  Invite a student with TS in your school to talk about TS and answer questions.  For more information about treatment, research, support, and bullying, visit the National Tourette Syndrome Association.   The organization has a special page devoted to children and teens, where they can download resources and free books.

Note:  A special thank you to Diane Tulloch, who introduced me to this book a year ago.  You can read her review at Writer and Dreamer at Work. 

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

30 thoughts on “I Can’t Stop! – Tourette Syndrome

  1. Thanks for telling me about this book. I had to ask my Mom what Tourette Syndrome is. I want to learn more about this topic so I’ll get the book from the library. It sounds like something that can be very frustrating for a kid. Thanks for telling me about this!

    • Erik, your are so interested in so many subjects. I like that you look them up when you want to learn more. I know an adult and two children with Tourette’s, and my guess you may have seen mild cases but not known it. There have been some interesting TV programs on children with Tourette’s. Glad you found it an interesting topic.

  2. I do remember this from Diane’s blog. There are some books worth bringing to people’s attention regularly and there aren’t that many on Tourette Syndrome, and this sounds so realistic and supportive. I have never taught any kids with TS, so I am not that familiar with it. Thank for this recommendation.

    • Joanna, that surprises me because I know children and adults with Tourette’s at church. I have seen many kids over the years with mild to moderate problems with Tourette’s. It is very hard on kids because of the bullying. This is a book I needed to add to my blog because it is so prevalent.

  3. I have never read a book about a child with Tourette’s so I’m very glad to hear of this one and plan to add it to PPBs even though today is Monday 🙂 I also didn’t realize that Tourette’s was anything but an inability to control inappropriate language, but I think that must be just one type of tic. Thanks for sharing this, Pat.

    • Susanna, that is because there are only two books that I’ve found. The same with and OCD book (Mr. Worry) that I ran last fall. Both written by the same author and published by Albert Whitman Co. As tics progress, many times other more prominent tics emerge like language and barking. One of the news shows did a feature on children with Tourette’s and it was very enlightening. Glad you liked the review.

  4. I worked with someone that had tourettes. It took some getting used to. Unfortunately, that person eventually got fired. It just wasn’t conducive to being a counselor.

  5. I have read an adult fiction book that includes a character with Tourette’s and it must be such a difficult thing for anyone to learn to live with, especially for a child. Thank you for highlighting this book.

    (If you’re interested, the adult fiction book was one of Jan Karon’s Mitford series, A New Song.)

    • Beth, I have read Jan Karon’s Mitford series, including A New Song. Completely forgot about the character with Tourette’s. It’s been a few year. It was important for me to include on my blog.

  6. Patricia – Thank you for posting about this book. I’m glad to know there is a resource available both for kids who have Tourette’s and also for the children and adults around them. Like happens with books like I Can’t Stop, Understanding Sam and Keep Your Ear on the Ball, once kids have a better understanding of why their peers act in certain ways, they are not only accepting of the differences but adapt their own behavior so that they can incorporate the other child as fully as possible. Inclusion starts with understanding and empathy.

    • Craig, you always leave such thought-provoking comments. Thanks you, they were excellent. So true, understanding leads to acceptance, adaption of behavior and inclusion in play. Yes, I was happy to find this book.

  7. Great book choice Pat – perhaps this will inspire new books about TS to help more kids!

    People in the US may have seen the ABC 20/20 report shown recently about a special camp for children with TS. As you already noted, many cases are less extreme than the ones depicted there, although TS can still have a significant impact on a child regardless of severity.

    I love Craig’s comment: Inclusion starts with understanding and empathy. Amen!

    • Cathy, I’m glad you liked the choice. I would certainly like to see more books, as there are only a couple. I thought it was 20/20 I saw the program on. Yes, Craig always leave very thoughtful and wise comments.

  8. I don’t know anyone with Tourette’s. I can see how it would be a hard thing to understand, especially for kids. It’s great that Holly Niner wrote this book. Sounds like it is a much-needed resource.

    • Ruth, Tourette syndrome is more widespread than people know. I bet you do know people with minor tics. For kids it is especially embarassing and they have a tough time. Need more books in this area.

  9. Hi Pat,
    Absolutely love this book! You are right…there are so few resources available for young children with TS…what a great book for a class to read…to help promote understanding and acceptance.
    I also wanted you to know I contacted Donna and will be sending her a couple of copies of my book for the Book Festival in May. 🙂 Thank you so much for posting about it!

    • Vivian, it is a great book to promote acceptance and understanding. I’m glad you liked it. Glad you are sending copies of your book to Donna for the book festival. Good for you! It was a gracious offer on Donna’s part to promote author’s books.

  10. I am so glad you added this to the list. I watched 20/20, also. My husband is an occupational therapist and he has seen more individuals with TS in his setting than I did in my teaching years. In fact, when I married him 32 years ago, I learned about a lot of conditions, including TS, that make it difficult for children to fit in because they are misunderstood. I had just finished my second year of teaching and wondered why the educational program at my university hadn’t made us more aware of these conditions as future teachers. I do hope they are doing a better job of it in universities now. (I imagine they are, since I graduated in 1977.)

    • Penny, thank you for your interesting comments about your not being taught about TS and other disorders in college when you were studying to become a teacher. You were lucky to learn about TS through your husband’s working experience with TS as an OT. I’m in your generation, and there was a lot that we learned by being on the job. I would love to know if universities are preparing teachers about TS, autism and other disorders, because of the inclusive programs in schools. I know those teachers specializing in special education would be exposed.

  11. I actually had to do some research on Tourette’s recently–this looks like a great book. Thanks for sharing!

    • Coleen, it is a good book for kids. Tourette’s was featured on 20/20 some time in the last year. So hard on kids. We have a child a church that has Tourette’s and your heart goes out to him.

  12. Another great book Pat. Sometimes I’m late to visit, but I’m never disappointed with your selection. As a reader, I learn something new. As a writer, it reminds me that there is a place for so many important topics.

    • Stacy, there has been a study done and a plea for authors to begin writing books for kids with special needs. They want the characters to be the protagonist, not just background pictures. The problem, is agents and publishing houses see it as a niche market. Albert Whitman Co. has published some good books. I’ve had some contact with some houses that only publish books for special needs kids –encouraging.

  13. Pat I hadn’t realised you had put this up. I had been waiting to see your review. It is a great book to introduce kids to the difficullties that those with this condition face. So pleased to see it well received and your very thorough review, and thankyou for linking back to me. You are so kind. Thankyou.

  14. Pingback: Daily Tourette Syndrome Links: Wednesday, April 4 | TSParentsOnline

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