2013 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “Tourette Syndrome – My Story”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.

Weinfeld, BenjaminSince the 2nd grade, I have been diagnosed with — among other things — Tourette Syndrome. I’m one of the lucky ones, if you can say that. I don’t blurt out obscenities, and I don’t convulse violently. I have minor things. So what if I whistle from time to time, grimace, jerk my neck, chirp, blink or stick out my tongue? I live with these tics all of the time.

Do I get jeered from time to time? Yes. Do I get odd looks when I walk into a room filled with new people? Occasionally. I don’t like to think of myself as a kid who has been smitten by an illness, but someone who — like everyone else — has his own definition of normal.

Back when I was diagnosed with TS, I was in the 2nd grade and I could not stop whistling in class. I got in trouble multiple times, and my parents were called in. A doctor then diagnosed me with TS.

I have to be honest here: I was bullied in elementary school because I was different, and it wasn’t until around the 7th grade that I became confident with who I was and began to take everything in stride. Continue reading

2013 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “The Brighter Side of an Obstacle”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.

Travis, ConnorImagine waking up every morning knowing you are in for a battle, starting each day well aware that you are facing something that you cannot control. Envision knowing that you cannot defeat it and never will. This has been my life for the past eight years.

When I was 9 years old, I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. Not knowing much about the disorder was difficult for my family and me, but we learned how to cope with it together. I will have to live with Tourette for the rest of my life because there is no cure.

Even while challenging me every day, it has provided me with some great experiences and the opportunity to meet some remarkable people. Tourette has definitely made me stronger and wiser.

Dealing with Tourette while I was in elementary and middle school was a constant struggle. Although I have a mild case, it still affected my everyday life. At first, I did not know how to live with Tourette, and it showed. I was constantly distracted by my tics and struggled to concentrate.

Medication was prescribed several times, but the results were minimal. I saw several specialists, and having someone to talk to made it easier to manage. As I got older and learned more about Tourette, I was better able to cope with it. The symptoms also started to decrease.

Living with Tourette Syndrome for so many years has had a positive impact on me, despite all of the obstacles. Continue reading

2013 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “Different Kind of Different”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.

Rothlauf, PaulThough we are alike in countless ways, I never knew what it felt like to be the one on the ground. I never suffered the blows to my face or the shoes to my ribs. Brian knew, and he knew better than he deserved.

It was evident since the day I met Brian in sixth grade that he endured a rough life of Tourette. He struggled enough as it was, weighing more than 200 pounds in just the sixth grade. Being large, twitching uncontrollably and uttering arbitrary noises were all traits that the typical sixth-grader did not have.

Brian had no choice as to having these traits, and neither did I. However, unlike Brian, I appeared more normal to all who knew me. No, I was not overweight. No, I did not yell or shriek at random. However, when I was 6 years old, I began to exhibit some atypical behaviors.

My parents decided that what I was doing was not normal. After a visit with a neurologist, I was diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive disorder and an involuntary tic disorder. Therapy failed to help. Relaxation techniques proved disastrous and worsened my tics. There was not a single person out there who knew what I was experiencing, and I felt trapped. Continue reading

2013 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “Tourette – A Sudden Struggle”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.

OHearn, Robert JrTourette has had a substantial effect on my life, even though my tics are considered relatively mild and could be much worse. Although I was born extremely premature and had several medical complications during my childhood — including ADD and vision problems — Tourette was not something I was anticipating, nor prepared to handle.

Strangely, without explanation, my tics suddenly started around age 16 during my sophomore year of high school. My tics consisted of throat clearing, eye blinking and other fidgeting of my hands and other body parts. My tics only happen when I try to speak, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes at their worst.

None of my family, friends or teachers could understand why I, a student who had always participated in class and communicated without any difficulty, suddenly could not speak or have a simple everyday conversation. I could not explain what was happening to me.

There is no pattern to my tics — they can happen when I am initiating the conversation or when I am answering a question, whether it is a telephone conversation or an in-person conversation, whether it is a stressful situation or a calm discussion.

It can be as simple as my mom asking me what I had for lunch at school that day. The tics and delays in speech are awkward and stressful. This had suddenly become a major problem for me. Continue reading

2013 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “My Life With Tourette”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.

~ Brian Tracy

Moszkowicz, BrandonTwelve years ago, I would have never thought this quote could describe me so well. In fact, I remember a time in elementary school when Tourette got the best of me. I used to make very obnoxious and very random movements with my head and hands. I couldn’t control my own body. All I could do was accept it and wait it out. And if that wasn’t bad enough, kids in school laughed and made fun of me.

Another problem at the time was the fact that my parents had no idea what was wrong with me. My parents were very worried about me, and after my doctor visits didn’t help, I was taken to a neurologist and was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. I was given many different kinds of medications, and they eventually started to work.

In high school during my freshman year, I noticed that the rate in which I would have random  impulses to move or make noises drastically dropped, and eventually I gained my life back and could focus much better. People eventually understood that I had Tourette, what that was and stopped making fun of me. I learned how to somewhat control my Tourette by accepting the fact that I have it and that, depending on my mood, it can be controlled.

Now that I’m graduating from high school and finished my senior year of varsity football and first year of varsity track, I plan to go to college. I’m currently focusing on a career at ITT Technical Institute for computer programming. I plan to start a few months after graduation. Even though I have Tourette, I feel very confident about my future, and although it might be challenging, I feel that I can succeed.

2013 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “A Bright Future is in Store for Me”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.

Francis, LaurenKindergarten to eighth grade, I attended I very small Catholic school. My graduating class was only 12 girls and no boys. I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in the first grade. I was fortunate to be in such a small classroom environment, as my classmates were familiar with my vocal and motor skill tics. I think they all just got used to me and what I did!

Coming to Bishop Ahr, which is a large Catholic high school, I was apprehensive about how my new classmates would react to my disorder. I had a hard time adjusting my freshman and sophomore years. The added stress I put onto myself made my situation worse. My neurologist always told me to be hopeful, that most people’s symptoms lessen during the adolescent years.

I started competitive cheerleading and gymnastics in kindergarten. It was something I could do well and be comfortable with. Performing in front of others is a scary thought for someone with Tourette Syndrome, but I soon found out I was a natural at it.

I would have never thought I would be able to try out for a high school competitive cheerleading team. Bishop Ahr cheerleading has a reputation for being state and national champions, and they are very well known across the country for being one of the best high school cheering teams. Continue reading

2013 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “My Battle for Confidence”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.

McCarthy, ConorThere is nothing that upsets me more in life than when someone gets upset with someone who is going through something very stressful just because they have to put up with that person’s stress.

This seemed to always be the case with my Tourette Syndrome, which started up when I was about 10. I’ll never forget it. The scariest part about having Tourette is when it first starts affecting you. Before I knew what Tourette was, I would feel the urge to curse. My parents would get very mad at me. I didn’t know what else to blame it on besides myself.

When I was diagnosed with Tourette, it made me feel a little better, not not quite. People stared, and I felt alienated. I always had to leave the classroom at school, and I didn’t feel like a normal kid. At that point, I didn’t try as much. I didn’t see the sense in it if my Tourette wouldn’t allow me to perform my work most of the time.

In fifth grade, I left my hometown school district for one for kids with special needs. I was a little nervous at first, but I soon felt I finally fit in somewhere. The kids there weren’t strange or mean. They were just people that had to go through similar things that I had to. I made a lot of friends, and I no longer felt alienated by other kids. We went over each other’s houses and even got into a little bit of harmless trouble once in a while.

I finally realized that I was just the same as every other kid. Continue reading

Surrender Your Say: Teens4TS gives up control of its Twitter account for a day!

The Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada has launched the 24-hour “Surrender Your Say” program on Twitter in which it randomly tweets out simulated tics to any account which “surrenders” control for a day. The idea is to show Twitter what having Tourette Syndrome is like.

While some posts may be offensive, designed to simulate the 10 percent of Touretters who have coprolalia, Teens4TS believes this is a wonderful idea and has agreed to surrender control of its Twitter handle from 10 a.m. today until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Read more about Surrender Your Say

Follow the Teens4TS Twitter account

Let us know what you think by commenting below or tweeting our account!

2013 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “TS has Shaped My Life”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.

Fleischman, EmilyI was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when I was 6 years old. As I got older, I tried to control my “tics” because I was embarrassed and afraid someone would make fun of me. I would try to hold my tics in all day long while at school and couldn’t wait until I got home so I could tick all I wanted.

Similarly, I rarely went on play dates after school because I wanted to go home so I could tic, and I never went on sleepovers because of the same reasons.

I continued to try and hide the “real me” until my freshman year in high school, when my doctor suggested I tell a few close friends about my TS and OCD. She related it to diabetes — a problem that you cannot control. I was hesitant about the idea and not convinced that it was OK, normal, cool or any combination of those words to have Tourette Syndrome — until my mother and I came across the NJCTS website.

Two weeks after the discovery of NJCTS, I told my two best friends about my TS, OCD and tics. They were wonderful and understanding. It became so much easier to relax with them, since I did not have to worry about hiding my tics. I even slept at one of their houses that night!

In April 2010, my life really changed forever for the better. Continue reading