Monday, October 24, 2011

In the Past- My Own Misconceptions about Tourette's Syndrome

Today I was thinking about 9th grade drama class with Hip Drama Teacher. I didn't like drama class very much because I was very shy and I hated having to talk at all in the class. However, I did a lot of listening and I really enjoyed the stories and fantastically interesting conversations that Hip Drama Teacher would initiate. My favorite memory of the class was when she told us all the story of when she fell off her bike and had a dream of sorts when she was unconscious of herself as a little Indian boy which she was convinced was her in another life. As a result she actually became Buddhist as an adult. She really is a fascinating person, which is why I'm kind of sad I dropped drama after that year. She also has a son with Tourette's who she talked about quite a bit.. Another one of the conversations that stood out to me from that year was one that she had with a boy in the class who also had Tourettes. She started talking to him about a Tourette's documentary that she was excited to see and about how her son ticced so hard in his sleep that he kicked her off the bed and broke her arm (she had a large cast on at this point!).

As a ninth grader who was not yet diagnosed with TS at this point, I had my own misconceptions about what Tourette's Syndrome actually was. No one had ever talked about TS with me and this conversation was the first time I had ever actually heard people really talking about it.  It's pretty ironic that as a 9th grader with undiagnosed TS, I though Tourette's Syndrome was actually the equivalent of early onset Parkinson's Disease for children. At the time, I really thought that TS was a degenerative disease and that people with Tourette's were in constant motion as a child and young adult until it entered its final stages in adulthood at which point the person would not be able to move at all and would be essentially paralyzed. Now this was obviously completely incorrect, and looking back I can't really believe that this was actually my perception of Tourettes as a younger teen.

What I find really upsetting as I look back on this is that when I heard Hip Drama Teacher and the kid in my class talking about Tourette's, I decided to look it up online to figure out if my idea of TS was really the truth and went immediately to Wikipedia.  The Wikipedia page for Tourette's was immensely confusing, using all sorts of medical jargon, and after about three minutes of being utterly confused and frustrated by the explanation I gave up and decided that I really didn't care all that much. I really didn't care all that much....and this was the truth. As a 9th grader, I thought that this medical condition was obscure and would never be any problem of mine. The really ironic thing is that if I had spent a few more minutes on the page or decided to go to a different website like the TSA website maybe, I might have figured out "Hey, this sounds a lot like me".

This memory gives me two things: frustration and understanding. It makes me frustrated that I didn't care enough to check a different source for an explanation (which would have only taken about 5 extra minutes). But it also gives me understanding because it shows me how easy it is for others to have misconceptions about Tourettes and to really not care enough to clear up these misconceptions and understand the disorder for what is really is. I was one of these people, and this does really make me upset looking back. Now however, I have the opportunity to make up for the fact that back as a 9th grader I didn't take the extra time to clear up my own misconception. Every time I tic, tell other people about what Tourette's really is, and explain my condition I am spreading awareness. This blog is spreading awareness as well and it is my hope that I can have an impact on those people who are like I used to be and who don't take the time to truly understand.

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