I had Tourette’s. Still do!
Are you sure you want your child diagnosed?
I know what you’re thinking so I’ll nip this one in the bud straight away:
I did not have that kind of Tourette’s.
You know, the one where people shout swear words and get away with it because, "Hey, it's Tourette's!" No... I couldn’t get away with shouting “---- you!” or a “You’re a -----” to grown-ups… although I tried.
Instead, I had the kind of Tourette’s where it just looks a bit awkward. When I was more anxious (which was often), I would have specific “tics”. These appeared as small involuntary movements like nodding my head, jerking my arm, or other less congenial facial grimaces.
It has never happened, but I'm sure if a group of us head-nodders ever got together we'd look like a bobblehead doll convention. Maybe we should organise something like that - we'd be the most agreeable bunch you'd ever meet!
Nod if you agree!
I knew I was different but I wasn’t sure why. I hated being different and having people laugh or smirk at me. I hated being noticed for something like a quick head nod or an arm movement rather than being a bright kid or a decent athlete.
I had the scans, met the doctors, and took the meds. The only thing missing was the t-shirt. I suppose it's never too late, though.
But then something amazing happened.
One day - I must have been around 11 years-old (give or take) - I visited a doctor in Detroit with my parents. The doc had some lab and scan results to share and asked me if I knew who Gordie Howe was.
“Yeah, he’s the greatest hockey player of all time – he's Mr. Hockey!” I answered.
“Yes.” He replied. “Did you know he had a “tic” like you?
“No…” I leaned in inquisitively, prodding for more.
“People used to call him ‘Blinky’. Can you guess why?” the doc quizzed.
“Because he used to blink a lot?” I replied, holding back a smile.
“Exactly!” he said. “He had a tic where he used to blink a lot and everyone could see it. He had a tic just like yours…”
“Cool!” I said, looking at my parents who also gave a grin.
“The greatest hockey player of all time had Tourette’s…” the Doctor reiterated. “You’re in good company!”
Nowadays I feel like I've converted much of my tic Tourette's into singing and whistling. Sinatra sounds better than "---- you, you ------ -----!" anyway, right? Occasionally, when no one's looking I try to get away with the little head-nod, just for old times sake.
That’s all it took… kind of
It’s amazing how much one positive word from someone can positively change your life and self-perception. I didn’t feel so bad about having Tourette’s after that. I mean, I knew I was a bit different but it started becoming OK!
I’m sure you can think of a handful of things people have spoken to you that made a difference for how you see yourself and your abilities - Something that made you walk taller, talk more confidently, take more pride in yourself and talk about yourself differently.
I remember being told by Mrs. Sturm, my first grade teacher, “Adam, you’re a great speller!” That was 30-years ago. I later went on to nearly win our school-wide Spelling Bee… twice! Even to this day I’m a stickler for spelling (don't spell check me, please).
Sadly, the opposite is also true
We can all remember hurtful things that people, including teachers, have said to us. Those wounds can hurt deeply, but when we have forgiven them and healed from those wounds they can also motivate us when we know those hurtful words can now to push us toward our “destiny” and “gift”.
(That's for another post!)
So what about diagnosing my kid?
Find out next week!
Sad child photo by by Kat J on Unsplash