An empowering, invigorating, life-changing experience

In 2014, NJCTS introduced the inaugural Tim Howard Leadership Academy—a four-day intensive program for high-school-age teens with Tourette Syndrome, held in August at Rutgers University. The experience was life-changing for the participants and we are thrilled to be able to bring it back this year. Recently, NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy Alum Hallie Hoffman wrote about the profound impact the Academy had on her. 

Imagine you are a teenager, and you have come to a place where there are many other kids your age. Many of them share similar interests as you, and all of you have come here to learn and have fun. You will meet adults who are proof that you will do fine in life. You will learn about many different aspects of yourself—physically, emotionally, and socially—and you will feel comfortable sharing these because no one is judging you here. You will talk and laugh with kids whom you have become closer with in only a few days than people you have known for years. You all came here because you share Tourette Syndrome, but what strikes you the most about the other kids is everything except that. You see them as athletes, musicians, actors, writers, dancers, and now friends. None of them are defined by their tics, and you know that they don’t define you by your tics either. Most importantly, everyone gets it. They understand the sadness, anger, frustration, shame, and fear. They know what it is like to feel alone, to feel different. But in this moment, none of that exists anymore. For the first time in many years, possibly even your entire life, you know that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

This is the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy. Last summer, I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of the inaugural group, and it was a life-changing experience. Prior to the Academy, I had never met more than a few kids with Tourette Syndrome, and I had never met an adult with it. At the Academy, I was able to clearly see that I am not alone. Talking with such confident and accomplished adults who also have TS gave me the confirmation that I needed to know that TS will not stop me from getting where I want to be in life.

It was not until I went to the Academy that I realized how much I had unconsciously suppressed my tics. Knowing that my tics didn’t require an explanation and that no one would feel uncomfortable by them gave me the freedom I needed to let them out. In doing so, I learned just how exhausting it had been to always attempt to filter my tics. Most incredibly, my tics quickly lessened because there was no added stress or effort to suppress them.

I remember the one night that a group of us huddled together around the piano, joking about how talented people with Tourette’s are. After singing many different pop songs and show tunes, we finally sang “Let It Go” from Frozen. As soon as we had finished, all of us realized at the same time that this was the perfect theme song for people with TS. The words “Let it go, can’t hold it back anymore,” and “Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me any way,” were a perfect narration for our lives.

Those three days were some of the best of my life. I met so many incredible kids and coaches, all of whom have inspired me. Learning about other people’s lives with Tourette’s helps me understand that I am never alone, and that there are so many others who understand my struggles. I still use everything I learned from the Academy, including everything from how our brains work differently, to study skills to help us in school, and even ways in which to relax that can lessen tics. One of my favorite activities, hearing from a panel of adults with TS, was an incredibly honest and enlightening experience. All of the participants had so many questions that had been on our minds, such as how TS can affect us in college, jobs, and relationships. The coaches answers were amazingly truthful in a way that brought us all together, and they reassured us that while there are struggles ahead, everything will be okay.

I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to return to the Academy this summer. I cannot wait to see the friends I made last summer, and I look forward to making many new friends as well. What is so amazing about the Academy is that it is something that never gets old; even though I went last year, there is always so much more to take from this experience. The Academy is a place where kids with Tourette’s can come together and grow, no matter where they are at in their journey when they first arrive. I know that this year I will learn a completely different set of lessons and skills, because I am at a different place in my life than I was last year. It is with this flexibility and focus on both individuality and the community that the Academy is able to offer so much to every person who comes.

I truly wish that all kids with Tourette’s could attend the Academy. It was such an empowering, invigorating, life-changing experience for me. Because of the skills and confidence that the Academy gave me, I was able to really start to speak out this year and be comfortable in who I am. A famous soccer goalie says to kids with Tourette’s, “You can do anything any one else can do.” This is what the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy has taught participants such as myself, and I look forward to this year when it will continue to spread this message of acceptance, self-esteem, and empowerment.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “The Things That Make Me Tic (Pun Intended)”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

AlecW

AlecW

It is about 11:45 on a Wednesday morning, My friends and I are leaving Panera, where we just had lunch. As we are on our way out, my head jerks against my shoulder, and returns to its normal spot. This is common for me. It is just another one of my tics, But, as I look up, I see a man staring at me. His eyes are wide, and he makes a wide path around me, I stick out my chin and walk away with a smile. One man’s reaction to my Tourette Syndrome means nothing to me, but how I have grown to overcome it means everything. I have Tourette’s, and I tic, and sometimes I cannot control it. For me, however, it is not a barrier. It is a motivation to work harder. Like most people who have Tourette’s, I do not involuntarily swear (less than ten percent actually do), but I am proud to represent everyone no matter what form of the condition they have, I try to be a model of “Nothing is impossible to overcome!” When I see people look up to me, it makes me feel good to stand for what I believe in.

Last fall I auditioned for my high school musical, Young Frankenstein, In the past, I had been cast in mostly ensemble or minor roles, I assumed it was because the director thought my Tourette’s would be a distraction to the audience. I did not care that I was probably going to be given the same sized role as I had in prior years, I sang my heart out and acted to the point where I left my audition exhausted. Two days later, I was cast as the lead, Dr. Fronkensteen. My Tourette Syndrome was no longer an obstacle in my eyes. I have learned that when I am on stage, my tics disappear. I am a completely different person. I worked as hard as I could to get to this point, proving I can be an inspiration to others. When I work my heart out, I can beat any obstacle, especially if it is something preventing me from doing what I love.

In Spamalot a musical I performed in last summer, there is a song called “Find Your Grail.” It is about finding what a person desires to make him happy. I have found my grail: theatre. It is the aspect of my life that has had the most major impact on my development as a young adult. Theatre has taught me the importance of leadership, confidence, and commitment, and aided in developing my creativity and communication skills, It has helped me grow into my shoes by teaching me that being who I want to be is what matters; no one else’s opinion should affect how I think of myself.

Finding my grail has completely changed the way I look at the world. One moment I thought I knew myself, and the next, I realized that my grail was not at all what I thought it was, Maybe my grail is being who I want to be, Maybe it is truly being myself, knowing that every day, my Tourette’s is not a disability, but a motivation to work harder. I am proud to say I have Tourette Syndrome, and I am proud to call myself an individual. I am who I want to be. I am Alec.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “Pushing Through”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

Meghan Ward photo

I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at seven. At the time, my brother was the one who had been diagnosed with Tourette, and he was having a difficult time coping with it. While we were following up with the doctor, my mother asked what my chances were of being diagnosed as well. The doctor said that, while I was sitting in my mother’s lap, “your daughter is ticcing right now”. Due the experience I had with my brother, I understood what was being said and did not have a bad reaction to being told I had Tourette. I, in turn, asked “if I was like Justin” and that I was happy Justin wasn’t alone. Dealing with my Tourette has been easier for me as I am on the more mild side of the spectrum.

In order to understand what my brother and I were dealing with, my family became more involved in the TS community. We were able to learn more about the disorder and about how it passes down genetically from the father. Being diagnosed with Tourette has brought closer together and we became more involved with the TS community. We would go to a camp that had other kids, just like us, who could learn more about each other and how TS had affected us differently. By going to this camp, it helped me realize that I wasn’t the only one who was different and that even celebrities could have disabilities and overcome the obstacles. The kids at the camp were taught to recognize our tics and became more aware of them in others.

Tourette has affected my school life both academically and socially. I’ve always had trouble concentrating in school. Knowing I have Tourette has helped me understand why I do the things I do and why I have difficulty staying still in my seat which made me focus on myself rather than the teachers. It has also made me more aware as well as defensive towards stereotypical remarks. I believe now that i am less likely to judge people by their mannerisms as I had been before.

A contribution my family was able to make to the TS community was being featured on a news program regarding Tourette Syndrome. By doing this news segment, we were able to help make people aware of the disorder, how it affects the child diagnosed, and the child’s family. This made me hopeful that people would be able to put a face to the syndrome.

Overall, being diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome has had positive and negative effects on my life. It has made me the person I am today; more aware of others disabilities and helping others who are in the same situation as I am. I have even volunteered on the First Aid Squad for my town. Tourette Syndrome is a part of my life and it makes me who I am.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “Defining Myself”

This is an anonymous essay submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. We hope you enjoy it!

As I think about my journey in life so far there is a central theme of determination that truly has identified who I am. Around the third grade I became distracted just trying to manage what seemed like ridiculous and annoying random movements. These daily distractions interrupted my life as a child and so after many months of medical tests, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. The diagnosis gave me some answers and peace of mind yet I still struggled with many unanswered questions. I used to think that if I could just control the tics then I could get on with my life. However; it took medication and several types of therapy to help mask some of my tics. Sports were always a great distraction for me and became a stress releaser. I played just about any sport there was like travel soccer, baseball, lacrosse and eventually power lifting. While on the field I was free to be me and my opponents simply focused on the athlete in me and not necessarily the boy with Tourette’s. I have personally experienced the positive impact that sports can have on your confidence and sense of personal achievement. I have also witnessed the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment experienced through working as part of a team.

Furthermore, I have experienced roadblocks such as being asked to take study hall instead of wood shop and endured the brutality of bullying due to my condition. By the way, I took wood shop and earned an “A”. Fortunately, I have also always had the benefit of being part of a very close family which has motivated me to stand up for myself. They have continued to believe in me and encouraged me to be the best person that I can possibly be. I do not let difficulties stop me from succeeding, but accept the challenge to remain focused on my goals.

Staying focused on personal goals gives me purpose. I know that so much can be learned from sharing personal experiences with others. This gives us the insight to realize that even though we come from different backgrounds, origins or statuses that we all face many challenges. These challenges may not be obvious at first sight but they shape the people we have become. I know my perception of others has changed especially while working with special needs kids. Through the special needs soccer program I have experienced firsthand how a sense of accomplishment can brighten the face of a child. Each person has the ability to impact another person’s life and talents to share.

Finally, I think that having Tourette’s has made me even more determined to prove that I am so much more than a person with a condition. I am a person who sets goals and works tirelessly to reach those goals. I know that hard work and passion are what defines me. I will continue to follow my path to discover my destiny.

#My5ChangesLives

#My5ChangesLives

#My5ChangesLives

Invest in NJCTS Youth Development programs

Donate at http://gofundme.com/TimHowardTSFund

  gfm_logo_300dpiWe are introducing a social media campaign to help raise money for NJCTS Youth Development programs including the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy and we want you to join us. As you may know, we are trying to build momentum to increase GoFundMe donations and a little goes a long way. If we can get as many people as possible to donate just $5 we can make a difference.

Invest in NJCTS Youth Development programs. Donate at http://gofundme.com/TimHowardTSFund

Donate $5 or more and challenge your friends and family to do the same. Then, take a picture of your hand, your 5, and use the hashtag #My5ChangesLives on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Your messages can be as simple as:

  • Or share your story and add… Please give me “5” by donating $5 (or more) to NJCTS Youth Development programs. http://bit.ly/1IROIoA #my5changeslives

As many as 20,000 kids in NJ have TS. That means there are thousands who would benefit. If we all gave a little, the NJCTS Youth Development programs will grow to meet the needs of more kids and teens. All it takes is $5 to change lives, share at http://bit.ly/1IROIoA. Imagine what we can do with more!

Thank you for your 5!

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “The Climb”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

JordanS

JordanS

l’m sitting in class and it is completely silent. l’m terrified of silence. I get an urge, an urge so powerful that I can physically feel it traveling through my body. My heart is pounding as I tell myself, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it.” But I have no control. The sound comes out loud and clear. The next thing I hear is giggling, snickering, mocking. I look around and I see cruel eyes glaring at me, burning holes in my skin. I feel like a bug under a microscope. I have Tourette Syndrome.

I’ve always thought of school as a battle ground; a place full of people who just don’t understand. Weekday mornings were always a struggle. I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to feel inferior. I barely even understood my condition. All I knew was that I make noises and movements that were unwanted, and everybody found them funny; but I didn’t find them funny. Every insult, dirty look, and whisper knocked me down a little more, to the point where I couldn’t stick up for myself because the bullies stole my last bit of self-esteem. For once, I wanted to fit in, to not be the oddball, to be respected, to be understood. Most of all, to be accepted. Obviously, these wishes weren’t just going to be handed over, that’s unfortunately not how the world works. My family and I wanted things to be different; but we would have to make the difference ourselves.

I decided, as a terrified ten year old, to educate the whole school on my condition. lt was something I never thought I could do, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Each class watched a movie explaining Tourette Syndrome, and then I went in and answered questions that they had. Standing up in front of the first class, I had never been so nervous in my life. But as the day went on, it got a little easier. I could feel confidence growing in me again. I could feel that fire; the fire that was put out by the people who I once feared.

In just one day, I went from being taunted, to being admired. people are actually more accepting than I could have ever imagined. The world is brighter than I ever thought it could be. That day was so successful that I’ve done the same presentation all throughout middle school and high school. I now have thicker skin, self confidence, and an amazing support system. I walk through school with my head held high; which is a complete revolution from staring at my feet when I walk.

It has been said that many kids with Tourette’s are musically inclined. It was in sixth grade that I finally had the confidence to be in talent shows. I remember being so nervous about the possibility of having a tic on stage, but it was the exact opposite. As soon as I opened my mouth and sang, all of the tics went away. lt was like magic. Those three minutes of “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus showed everyone, including myself, that I am more than just a girl with Tourette Syndrome” I am a senior in high school now and I still haven’t stopped singing. I went from being “the girl with Tourette’s” to “the singer”. lt was a dream come true.

Although having Tourette’s isn’t easy, l wouldn’t change it. I no longer see it as a flaw, it makes me, me. I realized that it’s not the nightmare that I thought it was. It really has shaped me into the person I am today. When a new problem arises in my life, it’s easier to handle because I’ve already faced and conquered my biggest obstacle. I have finally accepted that my Tourette’s is a part of me. However, it isn’t all of me; because I have Tourette’s but Tourette’s doesn’t have me.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “My Story with Tourette’s”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

NyamekeS

NyamekeS

Ever since I was a child, I have had small symptoms of Tourette Syndrome. I use to blink my eyes multiple times, when I hiccuped it was extremely loud and annoying. I use to get made fun of because of my hiccups but it didn’t acquire to me or my parents that this had something to do with Tourette Syndrome. My parents and I didn’t notice my symptoms on February 2011. In February I had an attack where I couldn’t stop shaking my hands my head jerks quickly. I was rushed to the hospital where I was tested for several diagnoses but not Tourette Syndrome. Towards the end of my visit, they then brought a neurologist in who then proceeded to diagnosing me with T.S.

Since I was diagnosed with T.S., it was very challenging to accept myself. I always doubt myself thinking I couldn’t do anything. I questioned my parents and God blaming them for what I thought was a sickening disorder. Everyday during class I made my tics however, they were small and I made them slightly noticeable. As the years progressed, I started to feel comfortable with myself and my parents always told me “God will never give you something you can’t handle”. After hearing this quote and eventually believing it I started to open myself more and began to tell my teachers and close friends. My tics grew slightly bigger but I never tried to hide it. Last year, in my major class which is Child Development, we did a research project on children with special needs. I figured this was the perfect time to share what I know, learn and a bit about me to the majority of the class who didn’t know that I have Tourette Syndrome. Towards the end of the presentation I asked my class if they know anyone with Tourette, only two students raised their hands. I continued with saying “You should all raise your hand because I have Tourette Syndrome”. The class was shocked but they never left my side, they supported me through everything I did. They brought Tourette Syndrome awareness buttons for T.S. Awareness month. All of the students in my class made me realize, that if I can share my story, I can do anything I put my mind to.

As a future educator in the child development field, I want to spread the word about Tourette Syndrome. I don’t only want my students to be aware but my coworkers as well. Telling my coworkers and my students will spread the word to other coworkers, students family members until the whole state, better yet, country is aware of this motivational disorder. I want my preschoolers to know that just because people have disorders or may look different doesn’t mean they are different. I want them to learn about bullying and how it shouldn’t be practiced at all. As a future educator, I want my preschoolers to see the positive of everyone with a disorder and/or disability. People with disorders or disabilities are just as smart, caring, loving and friendly as people without disorders or disabilities. Yes, I have had some challenges and I am still going through them. But I also remember, just because I have Tourette Syndrome doesn’t make things impossible for me, just a little difficult.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “My Journey with Tourette”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

SanjitS

SanjitS

As each student finished presenting, another one would go up. My turn drew closer, and I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. I could feel my tics getting worse. I was shrieking, hitting myself, and sweating profusely with each passing second. What if I fail this project? What if people laugh at me? Will I embarrass myself? These questions haunted my mind and created a vicious cycle that would translate into loud vocal tics. After what felt like an eternity, it was finally my turn to present. I got through my presentation and to my surprise, I received cheering and applause. My name is Sanjit Singh and I have had Tourette syndrome since the 4th grade.

My journey towards reaching that milestone presentation was anything but an easy one. As my vocal and physical tics became more severe, so did the glances and stares from random strangers. I wished they would realize that the level of inconvenience they felt from my tics was nothing compared to all the hardships I had to deal with my entire life. Mundane tasks such as sitting in a library or going to concerts always made me second-guess myself because I was afraid that my tics would ruin the peace of others. Despite my considerate intentions, I endured years of bullying for a medical condition I have absolutely no control over. My confidence and self-esteem were at an all-time low, and I finally decided that it was time for me to define my life rather than let Tourette syndrome define it for me.

I choose to let my experiences inspire me. I started going to class with more confidence and eventually stopped caring about how others perceived me. With the help of the excellent support system in place at my high school for students like me, I started to do well on my homework and exams. I started to believe that being different didn’t always have to mean being worse. Having Tourette syndrome gives me a deeper understanding of human nature and puts me in the unique position to study Psychology and become a Special Education teacher for Elementary school. I love finding creative ways to reach out to young children. I have been known for my storytelling among preschoolers, as it riles up their enthusiasm and gets their imaginations running. I truly understand that all people go through their own battles. I never “judge a book by its cover”. I have developed much patience with people and have a strong desire to help them become the best versions of themselves. My goal is to use my experiences with Tourette syndrome to make the world a better place, by helping each person realize his full potential.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “Like Holding in a Sneeze”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

MichaelL

MichaelL

Even as a child, I felt different. I would often undergo a momentary sensation that my whole world was about to end, and a split second later would experience deep mental clarity. I learned to call these moments “ticks,” and lived with a constant aura of discomfort that followed me everywhere and interjected itself into every social situation. Trying to control a tick is like trying to hold in a sneeze from when you wake up in the morning until you fall asleep at night. I became quiet and withdrawn, avoiding one-on-one conversations and any sort of eye contact because I didn’t want to risk someone noticing my ticks.

At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. I had suspected that my impulses had a name, but when the Doctor said “Tourette’s” I immediately thought of people randomly yelling curse words, which was not me. To leam the name of my neurological disorder made me sad, for its name alone meant lots of doctors for years to come. However, it also gave me hope—because I thought maybe, since medicine had a name for it, there might also be help available for people like me.

Shortly after my diagnosis, we were on a family vacation when my nine year-old sister threw a tantrum. She was having trouble solving a Rubik’s Cube. To quiet her down, I picked up the cube and taught myself how to solve it. Before I knew it, I was hooked. I practiced every day, and within a few months I was good enough to compete in Rubik’s Cube tournaments. Soon enough, no one seemed to notice or care about my ticks; they were only interested in my speed and accuracy. My personal best solve time is 11 seconds. I have competed at places like Princeton and Harvard, and I participated in the U.S. National Championships earlier this year. Among hundreds of kids in competition, I have consistently finished in the top 100. I even started a Rubik’s Cube Club at my high school. I can solve a Rubik’s Cube with one hand and am working on solving it blindfolded. I have realized that for me, solving a Rubik’s cube is akin to solving the puzzle of my Tourette’s through medicine, therapy, and sheer determination.

Living with Tourette’s is not easy. Ticks can interrupt anything I do, from shaving to raising my hand in Calculus to introducing myself to someone for the first time. These moments can be overwhelming and unpredictable. Sometimes reading a book can take twice as long as it should. Virtually every task requires a little more thought and a little planning. But I refuse to let Tourette’s stop me. My diagnosis has helped me discover my strengths, giving me confidence when I need it most. Over the objection of my parents, I made the decision to refuse any classroom accommodations to which I was entitled under law. I had to prove to myself that I can do anything anyone else can do; I just have to work harder at it.

Yes I have Tourette’s Syndrome, but I am also logical, hard-working, and determined – and my future is bright.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay “Not a Definition”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

NolanK

NolanK

I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when I was seven years old. At that age, it did not bother me much, and was not severe. It did not even cross my mind often at all. As I grew up, in my little, close-knit town of Lyndhurst, the tics did increase in severity. Naturally it started to bother me more and more as time passed by. In Lyndhurst, everyone seems to know each other and is friendly towards one another. This fortunately ended up benefiting me when it came to my TS. In elementary school, I went to class with the same thirty kids every day of every school year. I was very much respected by all of my teachers, classmates, and coaches as well. I lived a happy childhood with great friends who I loved so much, many of whom I am still friends with today. As I look back, I think about what an amazing,happy life I’ve had. I think about how appreciative I am, because I have lived this incredible, happy life that I am so grateful despite having TS.

This past year, I have come to realize that the best philosophy that any person with Tourette’s could have is that it does not define you. Little did I know that this was subconsciously my mentality throughout my whole life. It took me a few years to actually build up the courage to tell people about my disorder when they had asked about it. Before that, when people unknowingly asked about my tics, I would act as if nothing happened. Even then, it did not occur to me that the disorder I had was seen as something that stifled children from living a normal, happy life. I kept being myself and it worked. I acted as if there really was nothing wrong with me, because that was how I wanted to be viewed by others. I really was a normal kid who played sports, hung out with his friends as often as possible, and received excellent grades. Everything else in my life followed suit.

As I anxiously began high school, I told myself to act like I always had been. Fortunately, this was an extremely beneficial plan of action. Although I did make obvious screeching sounds and neck movements in the middle of class, my peers did not seem to mind much. I remained the kind, respectful, student and friend that everyone was fond of. My younger cousin also had tics, which caused me to start thinking about my own case. It became clear that since I knew I was a normal person, I could easily be one. I could even be extraordinary.

Medication was necessary due to the severity of my tics for quite some time. It made me very drowsy, and my mind constantly foggy. One summer, I reduced the dosage to help myself feel more alive and energetic. I then had to increase the dose again when my tics escalated. Eventually, with the help of my parents and neurologist, I slowly began to decrease the amount of medicine I was taking. In due time, I was completely medicine free. Soon, I started to become more energetic, as I hoped I would. I was loving life. The best part was my tics had barely gotten worse!

Over these past few months, with the new found gift of a clear, open mind, I have been thinking a lot about this topic. I realize that the best way to live with TS, is to act like it doesn’t even exist. This is what I have done for the majority of my life, and it could not have turned out better. I have never missed honor roll, I am a three year varsity baseball player and captain, have so many friends who I wouldn’t trade for anything, a caring family, and an incredible girlfriend who won homecoming queen along side me winning king. It is more than possible for people with this disorder to be as people without it. In fact, they can be extraordinary. Tourette Syndrome is not a definition. It is not who I am. I am Nolan, and that has worked wonderfully for me.