There comes a time when every person diagnosed with TS has to come out and tell their friends about the disorder. Whether it’s educating them on what it actually is, telling them to stop making fun of you, or just telling them why you “do what you do,” it’s important to tell them, no matter how you do it, so that you are treated with the same respect and kindness that you treat them. It definitely takes plenty of guts to say the words, “I have Tourette Syndrome.”
When you have friends that support you, a loving family and people around you in general just to be there when you’re down, it’s easy to be able to confide in them and tell them about your TS.
Start here first, and then branch out afterward, when you’re comfortable with it. It’s obviously awkward (and maybe even out of place) to walk up to someone and say it, so it certainly has to be at the right time.
I’m sure most of you have experienced the uneasy comments, “Why do you do that?” “Stop making noise,” “You’re bothering me,” and many others — much too many to mention. And I’m sure all of these comments added up can be pretty discouraging, but it’s up to you to stand up and realize that telling your peers about the disorder is your responsibility, and a very important and courageous thing to do.
I can vividly remember one situation when an acquaintance approached me in middle school and asked me why I jerked my head so much, going on to mock me and make the gesture himself. I immediately responded, “Oh, I have a mild case of Tourette Syndrome, and I can’t help what I do. It’s a neurological disorder that makes me want to tic every so often, which is why I make different movements sometimes.”
His face went blank, and I could see that he felt terrible for making fun of me. When people understand a situation more clearly and are educated even the slightest on a certain topic, they will be much more accepting of any specific condition and stop bothering you about it.
And then there are the people who immediately connect the word “Tourette,” to the ever-popular South Park television show on Comedy Central, which I will admit, is hilarious. As many of you probably already know, it mocks verbal Tourette Syndrome on one specific episode, which has since become a hugely controversial issue in the Tourette community.
I, on the other hand, believe that while it was insensitive to those with the disorder, it has opened up the door for Tourette’s, as it is now extremely well known around the country, and provides an opportunity to explain what Tourette syndrome REALLY is, how it works, and why we have it.
Over the years, I’ve found that telling your friends about what it is, in a mature manner, and explaining to them about why/how you have it, most kids will ignore the simple fact that you have TS, and accept it as part of you. Good luck! If you have any personal questions, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.