Living with Tourette Syndrome has never been easy, but in my book, Front of the Class, I remind people that just because they have a disability, they can still be successful.
I have come up with the top 5 things that every person with a disability should know.
#5 No excuses, EVER! It is important for people with disabilities to learn to live with it. They need to try and experience life just as a “normal” person would. It may be more challenging, but they shouldn’t be blaming what they can’t do on their disability. There were plenty of people that told me I couldn’t be a teacher. As I came upon obstacles I needed to hurdle over, I never gave the excuse that I couldn’t be a teacher because of Tourette’s. If I couldn’t believe in myself, then how could I get others to believe in me? No excuses. Try hard, if that doesn’t work, try harder. Just try your hardest not to blame what you can’t do on your disability.
#4 Humor, be able to laugh! It is important to sometimes take a step back and be able to laugh. I know having a good sense of humor has really helped me to live with Tourette’s. When my friends see I’m able to laugh about things, it makes it easier for them to talk to me about Tourette’s and they don’t feel awkward. One thing I always tell my students at the beginning of the year is that I’m willing to play all types of games, but not Hide and Seek. I tell them I was never good at that game as the person always finds me because they just listen for me to make a vocal tic. The kids always find that funny.
#3 Become the expert! It is so important that you become familiar with your own medical condition. This is crucial for when others may come up to you and ask what’s wrong with you. This is one of the first things I did once I was diagnosed with Tourette’s. I needed to know everything about Tourette Syndrome that was possible so I had the answers to questions that were asked about me. After I became the expert on Tourette’s, I not only was able to answer questions about my condition, but I also began standing up in front of my classes and educated other students about Tourette’s so they understood why I did the things I did.
#2 Be open and honest with others! It is important for you to remember that not everyone knows your disability. My tics really stand out and can sometimes disturb others. What I have learned is once they are educated about my situation, they leave me alone. If you don’t educate them, then you will leave them wondering what is wrong with you. I look at educating others as an opportunity to teach more people about Tourette’s. Many people are still uneducated about my condition so by me teaching others will hopefully help others with Tourette’s down the road. Although it seems difficult, taking the initiative to educate people will make your life easier in the long run.
#1 Don’t look at your disability as a weakness, see it as an opportunity! It is important for you to never forget that we are all human beings. Just because you are a little different doesn’t mean you should be treated differently. I know it’s easier said than done, but you must dig deep inside yourself and find out what makes you special. Start small and build upon those successes. Growing up, being in a school classroom was so difficult for me. I was never able to be that student that my teachers wanted me to be. In elementary school, I never had a teacher that appreciated me for who I was. All they could see was that I was an annoying kid who made noises all day, everyday. I was looked at as the problem child. But through all those tough times, deep down I knew that I wanted to grow up and be that teacher that I never had. I wanted to be there for students when they needed a teacher the most. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and I knew I could do this based on my own experiences. I turned living with Tourette Syndrome from a weakness into an opportunity. I now stand before elementary school children and try to be that role model I never.
Is there something else you would add to my list?
Welcome to my BLOG! This is new for me and it might also be new for you. I hope to use this blog as a resource to keep people up to date with what I am doing in regard to my new book which will be released in September, 2005 and my speaking engagements which will be happening more often. I hope to add articles to help people in the Tourette community, give my insight on things going on in education today, share pictures of my experiences, and most of all help make a difference in our society.
I encourage you to join me in my journey by visiting my website and blog frequently.
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As I get closer to the release of the book, more will be happening to the website and this page.
I hope you visit often. Once again, welcome to my BLOG!