Jared Stevens

Living with Tourette Syndrome has been the biggest obstacle in my life, but also one of the major catalysts in my development. My greatest challenges living with Tourette Syndrome were overcoming the social anxiety that came with revealing I had Tourette and surmounting the physical and academic impacts of constantly battling my tics.

As one can imagine, moving and making noises differently (than others) can be tremendously socially and emotionally difficult. Therefore, simply admitting I had Tourette Syndrome was my first obstacle. At first, I was scared to tell people. How will they react? Would they still want to be my friend? I was able to overcome my fears by trusting a few good friends and seeing that nothing changed.  Eventually, I could talk about it anytime, to even include my 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes in an auditorium. Overcoming this fear represented a monumental achievement in how I thought socially. I went from being protective of my condition to being open and happy to share.

My tics are exceptionally disruptive to learning because they are so attention consuming and energy depleting. The struggle of controlling my body while simultaneously learning took a tremendous amount of effort that continually distracted me from my work. Additionally, voluntary control-measures, (competing responses), consume energy, reducing my ability to learn. At one point my tics were so severe that I was homebound. The battle to overcome the snowball effect of my tics took me many months of hard work (and continues to this day). This momentous accomplishment of managing my tics and getting back to school was the sweetest victory I could’ve had. I learned that despite how bad things may be, obstacles can be overcome through perseverance.  After all, the same hammer that shatters glass forges steel. I believe those with Tourette work twice as hard as some, struggling to control our bodies while learning. This ethic of hard work and perseverance will be invaluable in life.

All my life I have had to learn to manage the incredible urge to tic, while still advancing in other aspects of life.  My tics, although they have been my greatest challenge, have given me the opportunity to overcome gigantic obstacles, like social anxieties and being able to function normally. Even though my tics are troublesome, they have given me much in return. Having Tourette Syndrome has been the single biggest influence on my character and how I view the world. And in some way, I am thankful to have Tourette Syndrome because it gave me at a young age what others take years to understand.