Toowoomba schools turn away boy with Tourette's: 'Absurd'
TOMORROW is a big day for student Bodhi Gilbert, who is preparing to speak on a condition that left him misunderstood and struggling to find schooling in Toowoomba.
The nine-year-old was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome in November last year, something his mother Nicole said doctors had struggled to recognise.
"He had tics since the time he was about two and a half, but nobody could put a finger on what was happening," Ms Gilbert said.
"Then someone linked me to an article about rage in kids with Tourette's - and I was like this is Bodhi.
"In my mind I had thought Tourette's was Coprolalia, the swearing tic, but that is actually very rare."
The syndrome leaves Bodhi prone to tics, small involuntary movements and sounds, and anxiety, OCD and ADHD, which require a supportive learning environment.
"He was attending a local school in Toowoomba last year however it became an explosive (situation) and I had no choice but to pull him out."
From there, Ms Gilbert said the family was turned away from multiple private and public schools, the reasons ranging from lack of resources to the family living outside the catchment.
"It was absurd - he was eight then, and I kept thinking, this is an eight-year-old kid and I can't get him an education."
Ms Gilbert said she planned to home school Bodhi when she had received a fateful call.
"I was preparing to resign from my job - and then Bronwyn (Bretz), the principal at Wyreema State School, got my number from a mutual friend and rang," she said.
"I brought him out there and they have been absolutely incredible."
Bodhi is settling in to Wyreema State School and is now looking to raise awareness about a syndrome affecting one-in-100 children.
Ms Gilbert helped design a colouring-in competition for his classmates, and Bodhi will speak at the school assembly tomorrow to mark Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week.
"The students at Wyreema are so accepting of Bodhi," Wyreema State School principal Bronwyn Bretz said.
"They have not seen a student with Tourette syndrome before, and Bodhi wanted to share his story with others.
"It has been wonderful to see Bodhi engaging with others at school and the inclusiveness from the students and school community."