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Answering questions about Tourette Syndrome can be fun

EmilyF was the 2010 National Youth Ambassador from New Jersey for the Tourette Syndrome Association. Here is the first of three posts from her about her peer-to-peer in-service presentation to elementary school students.

I had the privilege the other day of getting to talk to fifth- and sixth-graders at the Roosevelt School in River Edge about Tourette Syndrome. They were really attentive, great kids who asked a lot of great questions. They took it really seriously, and that made me very happy.

I just want to get the message out there that people with Tourette Syndrome are normal, shouldn‟t be bullied and should be treated like everyone else. I remember telling them, “Should we ever bully someone? No.”

When I was done with my presentation — I was really nervous, but it went really well — the kids got to ask me questions. Some were fairly simple to answer, while others could have thrown me for a loop. Here are some of them:

  • How old you were you when you first had Tourette Syndrome?
  • Where did you get it from?
  • Have you been made fun of for it?
  • When do you get it most?
  • What is the difference between Tourette and tics?
  • How do you control it?
  • Does it hurt to hold it in?
  • Were you born with it?
  • If another family member has it, can I get it?
  • Who are your role models?

To the girl who asked if I had been made fun of, I said yes, but was quick to reiterate to the kids that no one should ever be bullied. In fact, one of my power-point slides even said, “We should NEVER MAKE FUN of people because of their differences, especially when it‟s something that they CANNOT CONTROL. People with TS are just the same as all of you.”

To the boy who wondered about the difference between Tourette and tics, I reminded him about the different types of tics — simple and complex motor, as well as simple and complex vocal — and reminded him that tics are just a part of Tourette Syndrome, not the actual disorder itself.

It was a really great day, and I was so glad that it was so well-received. I look forward to doing more of these presentations in the future. Kids need to hear that people with Tourette Syndrome are just like everyone else and that we can’t control or change that we have it.

For more about Emily’s presentation, check out the newsroom section on the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome website.

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