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Controlling tics during active shooter event a concern for students with Tourette Syndrome

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CAPITAL REGION (WRGB) - In an active shooter situation, when staying hidden could mean staying alive, imagine the fear if you physically couldn’t keep quiet.

"It is a big fear of theirs because even if it's just a little noise like a squeaking or a barking or something like that, they just figure they're not going to have a chance because they'll find them because of their noises," said Susan Conners.

Conners is President of the Tourette Syndrome Association of Greater New York.

She says being unable to control their tics during an active shooter event has become a major concern for many students with Tourette Syndrome.

"I had one boy recently who told me he carries in his backpack a wash cloth, a face cloth that he stuffs in his mouth just for that purpose because he's so afraid that he would give everybody's location away,” Conners said.

Conners says the tics are involuntary, and uncontrollable.

And she says in stressful situations, the more anxious you get, the worse the tics get.

"We want to make sure they're calm during the situation as best can be," said Deputy Ken Cooper with the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Cooper says it might feel like forever, but remember that officers will be there soon.

"30 seconds to a minute, two minutes."

He recommends students use the buddy system and getting to a locked room immediately.

Conners says she suggests a sound proof stenomask for students who are especially scared.

"They put it just over their mouth and it's all made out of foam and rubber and several layers of it, and so quite a few of our kids have that and they keep it with them at school,” Conners said.

Deputy Cooper adds that he wants all students to know that they are not who needs to be stopped.

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"We don't want them thinking that they're going to be how people are going to get hurt during an active shooting event. They're not the problem. They're never going to be the problem."

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