This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome for their 2012 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.
In grade school, I was an athletic child in the gifted academic program that enjoyed playing guitar. Upon the onset of puberty, my world turned upside-down. I developed Tourette Syndrome, which manifested into an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Focusing on my music became incredibly difficult. Making the plays I had always made on the soccer field became near impossible. Maintaining my grades was a struggle. Everything that had previously come easily to me suddenly became a challenge.
My parents and I attempted to learn and do as much as we could to maintain my prior level of achievement, but it became overwhelming for me. After years of trying to handle my situation at home while attending my local high school, it became clear that I needed a more intensive therapeutic environment to learn how to cope with my issues.
Though there were many paths to take, we chose Academy at Swift River (ASR) in Massachusetts because it was exactly what I needed to understand and acknowledge my challenges and overcome the obstacles from my condition. ASR is also a college prep high school, so I was able to continue my education with smaller, more personalized classes.
While it was difficult to switch schools initially, I feel very fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to work on and overcome what seemed like insurmountable obstacles. I have come to see that Tourette and OCD do not define me.
This journey was the hardest battle of my life, but one I am proud that I fought. With the therapeutic achievements that I have made at ASR, I am back engaged in school, sports and my music. I feel uniquely prepared to take on the next chapter in my life — college.
I have lived away from home for more than a year and jumped hurdles that most students have not. I graduated early from high school in February and have already started college courses at my local community college. I have applied and been accepted to several four-year colleges, which I plan to choose from and start in the fall.
Now, a new obstacle of financing my future is at hand. One year at ASR cost what many college cost over four years. It was a necessary and invaluable investment.