I just finished meeting with my creative writing professor about my Tourette’s. She is the first professor so far in college that I have talked to personally about Tourette’s and it could not have gone better!
We eased into the subject by first talking about introduction things like some of the things I was looking forward to about the class and some of the changes that had been made to the class this year. Then when I started telling her about my accommodations and about my Tourette’s, it felt like we weren’t strangers.
I was proud of the way I told her about my tics and how Tourette’s would effect my in the classroom. I never faltered, never hesitated and never felt like I was at a loss for words. I gave her the basic explanation, handed her one of my makeshift Tourette’s medical information cards that I made this morning, and then told her about my accommodations and what would help me in class.
She responded so well. She was genuinely curious about my Tourette’s, how it affects me and how it will affect me in class. She was not afraid to ask me questions, which I think is because I appeared to be so comfortable and confident talking about it.
She asked me several questions such as “Are the tics distressing to you?” “If this is OK to ask, what are some of your tics” (because I wasn’t ticcing very much when I met with her), “how long have you had Tourette’s” and other questions. She seemed curious in a kind way, and eager to understand and help me in any way she could in class.
The basics that I found were most important for me to explain to a professor were:
- That it’s a neurological condition that causes tics which are movements and sounds that my body does that I can’t control.
- That the severity of my tics can change from day to day or from hour to hour which means some times I am ticcing a lot, but sometimes I am hardly ticcing at all.
- That my tics can change, so while one day I may be doing a vocal tic that sounds like a bark, the next day I may be doing a completely new one that I’ve never had before.
- That 10 percent of people with Tourette’s have swearing tics and that although I have vocal tics, I don’t have swearing tics.
- That when my tics get bad it is helpful for both me and the class for me to step out of the room and walk around for a little bit, then come back.
- That sometimes my tics may look purposeful, but they are not and that they are something that I do not choose to do and are essentially involuntary.
Those were the basics! Overall, the meeting went really well. We also ended up talking about other things like the literary magazine, writing in general, high school, the other classes I’m taking this year, Camp Twitch and Shout, and my major — which is philosophy-neuroscience-psychology. I feel like I made a connection with my professor already, and school hasn’t even started yet.
My advice to high school students and college students with TS would be to talk to your teachers before the first day of classes. First of all, they will understand your Tourette’s and tics going in so there will be no surprises.
And second of all, you will be one of the first students of the year that your professor gets to meet, which means you will start out school on the right foot with a connection to the professor that the other students don’t have yet.
This is the first step to creating a relationship with your professor, and you will be way ahead of the other students. Also when going in to talk about Tourette’s, don’t just talk about Tourette’s!
Let your professor or teacher get to know you as a person. Let them get to know how amazing you are and what a bright personality you have. Let them know about your interests and hobbies and favorite classes. Also get to know them! Show that you are interested in their research, their projects, their class and/or their subjects of interest. Your teacher/professor will love this and will think so highly of you after the meeting! Trust me!