This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2016 Youth Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!
Tourette Syndrome has played a pretty big role in my life. I was diagnosed when I was nine years old. My tics have always been an obstacle for me my entire life and seemed to stop me from achieving my full potential, especially when a was younger. Luckily for me my Tourettes have decreased in severity as I grew older, but they are still a part of my life. Although Tourettes will forever be an obstacle for me, I will not let them stop me.
Before my family and I found out that I was diagnosed with Tourettes, I just thought I was crazy. I would do things like blow on my hands constantly and move my hands up and on the way down hit my leg. My parents would always tell me to stop what I was doing. They would constantly get frustrated with me and want me to stop doing the things that I couldn’t stop myself from doing. I had no idea why I was doing these things. It was hard on my parents. Finally my parents and I decided to go to a neurologist and see what was wrong with me. We were then informed by the doctor that I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.
Ever since I found out that I had TS my whole world started to change. They seemed to increase and people started to notice them. Tics are never the same action for me. I have both vocal and motor tics which can bother others at times. I would do a noise or throw my head back for a good many months or so and then do a totally new action like bulging my eyes or my nostrils. I cannot recall a time where I didn’t have a tic happening to me. I would always be embarrassed when people would notice my tics or ask what was wrong with me. This would make me self-conscience around others and cause me to drift away and do my own thing.
Nowadays, I believe I have a good understanding of my tics and do a good job masking them. I still do things like make a throat noise or even cracking my knuckles. I am proud Tourettes haven’t held me back like they used to. I want to be an actor and I am planning to attend Arcadia University in the Fall where I will be in the B.F.A in Acting program. I have been in many productions since Elementary School. I am also in the choir and have sung since Sophomore year. When I am acting and singing, the tics seem to just dissipate and I feel free. I’m proud of myself for learning to deal with my Tourettes and somehow masking them to be unnoticeable to others.
In conclusion, Tourettes is just a part of my life. It is who I am but does not define me. Although it is an obstacle in my life, I am glad that I am currently overcoming and coping. I really wish that there will be a cure in the future for Tourettes. I hope that everyone can learn about this syndrome and be tolerant to those who suffer. Tourettes should not stop you from achieving your dreams.
Alec Wolf finds freedom when he is on stage and he doesn’t let his TS hold him back. We are delighted to have Alec chosen as a finalist of our Youth Scholarship Award and we look forward to seeing his continued success, in school and on stage!
PHOTO COURTESY OF CINDI WOLF Alec Wolf, as Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein, sings on his peers’ shoulders in MHS Limelight Players’ production of “Young Frankenstein,” in November 2014.
Alec was recently profiled in The Item of Millburn and Short Hills:
The only time Alec Wolf says he feels free from Tourette’s Syndrome is when he’s on stage.
Wolf, 18, clears his throat and jerks his body uncontrollably several times a day, but he says the tics are part and parcel of the character he plays every day in real life: Alec Wolf.
In the theater, however, they’re nowhere to be found.
“I can have a million personalities when I’m acting, and it’s not the one with Tourette’s,” said Wolf, who graduated from Millburn High School last month. He was awarded the New Jersey Center for Tourette’s Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS) 2015 Youth Scholarship after submitting his essay, “The Things that Make Me Tic (Pun Intended).”
Hey everyone. I have been so busy since the summer came to an end. I’ve been in back to back theater shows. I started COLLEGE. I love school, I never thought that those words would come out of my mouth. I am dealing with a broken foot … well, a re-broken foot. I have been in a cast since September … an old injury decided to reappear.
I am really enjoying life right now despite the big boot cast I have to lug with me. A few cool things.
I not only met, but I performed for Tony Award Winner Joe Dipietro
I am having a ball playing Eugene in Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs”
People in college don’t seem to pay as much attention to my tics. They are more accepting.
I am in a show on the main stage at my college.
I am recording new music
I had the honor of performing at the New Jersey Disability Pride Parade
I can’t wait for the NJ Walks for TS event in Mendham on Saturday so I can finally meet some of you. I am of course looking forward to singing for all of you, but most of all I am just looking forward to celebrating everyone’s efforts.
I have to give a special shout out to my friend Tommy Licato. He has worked so hard to raise funds for Team Tommy. I decided instead of building my own team I would support Tommy’s. I know I am a celebrity blogger, but around here he is the real celebrity in my opinion. He works so hard to help raise awareness and I am proud of him.
So remember to push those fundraisers out there. Awareness is key, but we need to raise money so we can keep helping others with Tourette Syndrome.