How TS Has Affected Me in Dance

By Sarah Freeman, NJCTS Youth Advocate

In dance, we are always told to be uniform. Our costumes are always the same, our hair is done the same way, we are told to move in the same way. My dance teacher always says, “No fidgeting.” He will often not turn on the music until each dancer is standing perfectly straight, still, in position, and ready to go.  As someone with Tourette’s Syndrome, this can be difficult for me. Uniformity does not come naturally to me, as my diagnosis makes me different. Navigating this is difficult, but not impossible. It just takes communication. 

When I first started at my studio, I pulled my teacher aside and told him I had Tourette’s Syndrome. I let him know that I will try my best to not fidget, but that it might be difficult for me. To my relief, he was okay with this and gave me space to figure it out. This really helped me feel comfortable to be myself in dance, without worrying about how I looked or if my teachers would be angry with me. 

Dance taught me a lot about advocating for myself. It was the first time I ever had to talk to an adult about what having TS was like for me, or what I needed from them. At school, my parents would usually do all of the talking for me. In this situation I had to speak for myself, which really helped me grow as an advocate. I would advise any person dealing with TS in a sport to just talk to their coach or teacher. I would tell them to just be upfront about it, and to be direct about what they need. A lot of coaches or teachers may not have ever met anyone with Tourette’s, so they might not know how to handle it. Being specific about what you need from them and leading with honesty is going to provide the best outcome. 


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