Until my middle school years, I attended a small elementary school where I, and my Tourette’s Syndrome, was accepted by everyone. Differences were acknowledged and celebrated by students and staff. The situation changed when I got to middle school. The school was larger with many elementary schools combined into one. Differences were not celebrated. They were ridiculed. Because of the lack of acceptance, my stress increased and my tics intensified. In the spring of seventh grade, vocal tics began. Blurting out words, cussing, and screaming loudly because of anxiety of being unaccepted. The staff, while accepting me, did not do much to accept my tics. I was called names and the teachers did nothing to help explain my condition. My anxiety increased to the point where I was traumatized and unable to attend class. Teachers provided homework for the three weeks I was out of class, but there were no changes made when I returned to school. At the beginning of eighth grade, I started talking on the first day of school in each class, explaining my tics and Tourette’s Syndrome. High School has been very difficult. School was larger with more students who didn’t know me and judged me based on my tics. By the time I was a Junior and Senior, more people knew me because I was an upper classman and students were more tolerant of my physical and vocal tics.
Then on December 2nd, the San Bernardino shooting took place. The fact that people died was upsetting, but the fact that it took place at a center that worked with disabled people was heartbreaking. Obviously, it affected me because my vocal tics started centering around shootings. My family and I decided that I would miss a couple days of school so the School Resource Officer wouldn’t tackle me when I blurted out, “School shooting! Get Down!” Everyone thought it was a wise choice, except my economics teacher. He didn’t feel that I should be able to complete work at home and that I shouldn’t be absent. In fact, he told me I was missing too much school and needed to attend his class. When I explained why I had missed class, he said I should have come to him before I made the decision not to attend any classes. I metaphorically had to kiss his feet to receive the work needed to complete the class. His decision to treat me as a lesser person because of my syndrome made me feel worthless.
I have come through the incident as a stronger person. I have many people who accept and support me, I am taking classes at the local community college where I’m acknowledged, and I’m looking forward to graduation and the opportunity to move into a situation of my choosing. The incident with my econ teacher has helped me build an armor and made me stronger. Tourette’s is making me a better person.