Weehawken’s Theresa Borrelli is an adult with Tourette who has written “Why Is Jamie Different?” to discuss TS and issues such as bullying, ADD, ADHD and anxiety.
WEEHAWKEN – When it comes to children, Theresa Borrelli is especially motivated when it comes to Tourette Syndrome awareness and advocacy. Borelli is 50 and has had the misunderstood, misdiagnosed, inherited neurological disease since she was a kid herself. She also spent more than a third of her life as an educator, encountering youth with Tourette throughout her experience as a teacher and college professor.
So it comes as no surprise that her second published book, “Why is Jamie Different?” is all about the many challenges children with TS encounter throughout childhood. The 24- page illustrated book, which retails for $24.95 at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, has been available to the public since August 2012, but is really starting to pick up steam in early 2013.
“To be physically challenged with a disorder that is not too knowledgeable or often misinterpreted, brings cruelty and abuse by others,” said Borrelli, who lives in Weehawken and also has published “I Am Myself: A Woman Growing Up With Tourette Syndrome.” “Jamie is challenged everyday by Tourette Syndrome and gains courage and integrity by teaching her peers about the disorder. Jamie is abandoned by her classmates except her best friend who teaches Jamie to be honest with the other children. Why is Jamie Different? is a truly inspirational book which teaches children acceptance of others, and yes, that it is OK to be different, because we all are in some way.”
Borrelli believes the book isn’t just for those affected by Tourette Syndrome, however. While TS affects 1 in 100 children and adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issues such as bullying, ADHD, ADD and anxiety affect large segments of American society. Like Tourette, they are prominently addressed in the book. Collaborative Partnerships for the Tourette Syndrome Community
“I like to use the acronym ADAM – Acceptance, Determination And Motivation,” said Borrelli, who is a former motivational speaker and used medication to help with her TS for more than 20 years before having to stop because of other health problems. “It took me a while to accept that I had Tourette when I was kid, but once I did, I went on from there. The message for children here is to be who you are. You can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because of a disorder or disease.”
Born and raised in Hudson County, an accomplished musical artist – she released a spoken word CD in 2005 and was the self-proclaimed “white Queen Latifah” for 20 years – and someone who has accomplished nearly everything she’s set out to do in life, Borrelli knows what it’s like to be that picked-on child. What she doesn’t understand is why adults don’t care better for kids in need.
“Too many adults just don’t get it when it comes to Tourette Syndrome or any disorder,” said Borrelli, who as an adult is most affected by TS through her shouting tic. Motor and vocal tics often are tell-tale characterizations of Tourette. “I have a message for them, too, through this book: Don’t be so callous when you see someone different.”
For more information about Theresa Borrelli or her books, please visit her website or check out an interview she recently gave to the Hudson Reporter. For more information about another Tourette Syndrome children’s book, “Emily’s Tic,” please visit the Teens4TS blog. For more information about TS and available programs and services in New Jersey, please visit www.njcts.org.