June 6, 2005: Dr.
Duncan McKinlay knows what it's like to keep
He was only seven years old when he discovered
his and it was 12 years before anyone else realized
it. Now, the London, Ontario-based clinical
psychologist - who was diagnosed with Tourette
Syndrome when he was 19 - wants to help children
get their own personal monkeys off their backs.
my work as a clinician, more often than not
the bad kids don't walk into my office. The
bad teachers don't walk into my office. The
bad parents don't walk into my office. It's
the good, confused and overwhelmed people with
a giant monkey on their backs that come to see
me," McKinlay said prior to a weekend conference
aimed at helping families of special needs children.
true enemy that people are missing is this disorder.
One of the most important roles I can play is
the one of the information conduit. I want to
help people understand (Tourette Syndrome) and
how to not mistake it for bad behaviour."
McKinlay was one of the many guest speakers
on hand at the ouR-Net conference, sponsored
by the provincial parental advisory committee
for the Northwest Alberta Child and Family Services
Authority Region 8. Presenters discussed such
topics as education needs and gaps, positive
behaviour and support, living with a disorder
and how to build self-esteem in a child with
And perhaps most important, said McKinlay, was
the chance to help rebuild families dealing
with a disability.
importance of my role is to change the dynamic
in the family and get everyone working in co-operation.
That's the only way you can get further as a
team," he said.
thing I do is start with my personal story and
let them know about the monkey I've been carrying
around on my back. There were some pretty rotten
times between (my sister and I). The more I
worked, the more I wondered about the impact
this had on her. I wasn't the brother she wanted
to have. I was lost and she was confused. The
attention was on me and the damage was done.
(A session) like this would have been helpful
for me to live a happier life."
By drawing on his personal experiences and his
own struggles with Tourette Syndrome, one of
McKinlay's most popular sessions is a sibling
in-service. There, he meets with siblings of
children with differences to answer their questions,
share ideas about how to make life easier and
validate their own struggles within the family.
I can do is not make excuses for brothers and
sisters or tell you that you have to put up
with stuff. I want to see what we can do to
figure out what these kids are dealing with
so everyone understands it better. We can talk
about it so they know I understand what they've
gone through. Let's help make them less lost
and less confused," he said.
I find is my past liability has become an asset.
By discussing what they experience on a daily
basis, they really get it."
McKinlay has been a keynote speaker for hospitals,
universities and school boards across Canada
and the United States since 1997. In addition
to his work as a psychologist, he has done well
over 300 presentations for organizations and
and groups dealing with a variety of disorders.
This is the first time a conference of this
type has been held in Grande Prairie and McKinlay
said the overwhelming demand speaks for itself.
the interest this (conference) is getting, obviously
there is a need. We want to help keep those
kids from falling through the cracks."