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.
I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when I was 7 years old and in second grade. My first tic was obsessive blinking, which quickly snowballed into a bunch of other very noticeable tics. When I was a young child, my biggest challenge was social. My classmates had a hard time understanding why I was rolling my eyes or making funny faces at them. As I grew into my teenage years, the greater challenge was learning how to not let my tics interfere with my aspirations to do well in school and to perform in front of an audience.
With a diagnosis of Tourette, I was afraid that my tics would prevent me from pursuing my signing. Luckily, it didn’t. As a member of the Continuo Singers, I have been fortunate enough to perform at Carnegie Hall twice, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, for the Turkish Embassy and at The Music Center at Strathmore in Washington, D.C.
In December of last year, I was lucky enough to go on a European Tour of Vatican City and give a private performance for the Pope. During that weeklong tour, I sang in some of the most amazing churches in Rome, Assisi and Prague. There have been times when I was ready to give up my singing because of my tics, but my mother was always there to support me and to tell me that I couldn’t let my tics win. I have endeavored to live up to the saying, “My Tourette’s may be a part of me, but I will always come out on top.”
My tics have taught me many life lessons. I have learned that no matter what differences or quirks one may have, you need to treat that person the same. I learned this because before I was diagnosed, people judged me for my tics, which hurt because I didn’t even understand why I was doing these weird things. So there was no way I could explain it to my peers who teased me for them.
I think having Tourette, as well as having a nonverbal learning disorder, has enabled me to become a very empathetic individual. I am so excited to begin the next chapter of my life in the fall at Saint Joseph’s University, where I will be working toward a degree in Special Education.
I am so passionate about becoming the best teacher that I can be. I look forward to making a difference in the lives of those who have learning disabilities and may suffer ridicule or lack of understanding because of their disabilities. I hope to make a difference in the world and inspire others to do the same.