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2014 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “I’m Moving On”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2014 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

Tourettes. We all have our own challenges. Mine has a name. It is a name that will be with me forever. So what do I do? For me, l just move on, When I was twelve years old I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.  I couldn’t control the tics that my body was doing, I was having a harder time in school, and my teachers and family were becoming less patient. I had been already been diagnosed with ADD which made school and other work harder and while my Tourettes was not as severe as some other cases,  it was still a struggle.

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder in which causes involuntary motor and/or vocal tics and twitches. TS has coexisting conditions such as ADD/ADHD, speech and motor skill deficiencies, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Although 1 out of 100 children have Tourette Syndrome, it is a commonly misunderstood disorder and there is no cure. When I was first diagnosed, my tics included various vocal, facial and motor tics. Tics are like a sneeze in that you can’t stop them from happening.

Having TS can feel like being a puppet on a string with someone pulling your body  in ways that you can’t stop. lt can be so consuming to try to do the tic or try to stop from doing it, that you can’t think of anything else. Tics wax and wane so you never know what each week will bring.

Despite the complications and difficulties resulting from various symptoms, the personal philosophy that I have developed has always been to deal with “the hand I’ve been dealt” and keep moving forward.

I have personal goals to accomplish and I can’t let a few mild learning difficulties get in my way. On a positive note, people with Tourettes often have gifts that help them excelto great heights. Mozart, Howard Hughes, David Beckham were all exceptional individuals with Tourettes.

Seventh grade was a transitional year academically as well as personally. I was starting Middle School, I now had new classmates wondering why I was making strange noises and head motions. I learned very quickly that education and advocacy is key for people with TS.

Ilt is important to explain what TS is all about and that the tics are not controllable and cannot be stopped. once my teachers and peers understood why my hands were shaking or my eyes and mouth were stretching, it was almost as if they didn’t notice it any longer. While classes such as English and Math were now much harder, I was doing very well in Social Studies.

I recognized that I had a strong interest in History, Governments and Politics, l enjoyed learning facts, dates and outcomes. By the eighth grade, while I continued to struggle a bit academically, I started taking drum lessons. Drumming was a significant help with relieving stress. I realized that I was completely focused on the task of drumming and rhythm and my tics became nonexistent. Discovering new hobbies and passions alleviated stress, reduced tics and helped me gain confidence in my abilities and accomplishments.

Starting high school brought new opportunities and new challenges. Freshman year turned out to be my strongest academic year in nearly a decade and made me feel more confident to explore other activities.  I enjoyed participating in the debate club, which covered social issues and since a hobby of mine is classic movies l joined the film club.

While I may not always be comfortable discussing or promoting awareness of Tourette Syndrome, I do not let my tics or accompanying conditions control me, With symptoms that constantly change, I may face new challenges any given day; but I will not let them get in my way of my long term goals. we all face challenges, how we handle them or prevail over them is the real test. As the Elvis song says, l’m moving on.

DavidL

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