2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “The Things That Make Me Tic (Pun Intended)”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

AlecW

AlecW

It is about 11:45 on a Wednesday morning, My friends and I are leaving Panera, where we just had lunch. As we are on our way out, my head jerks against my shoulder, and returns to its normal spot. This is common for me. It is just another one of my tics, But, as I look up, I see a man staring at me. His eyes are wide, and he makes a wide path around me, I stick out my chin and walk away with a smile. One man’s reaction to my Tourette Syndrome means nothing to me, but how I have grown to overcome it means everything. I have Tourette’s, and I tic, and sometimes I cannot control it. For me, however, it is not a barrier. It is a motivation to work harder. Like most people who have Tourette’s, I do not involuntarily swear (less than ten percent actually do), but I am proud to represent everyone no matter what form of the condition they have, I try to be a model of “Nothing is impossible to overcome!” When I see people look up to me, it makes me feel good to stand for what I believe in.

Last fall I auditioned for my high school musical, Young Frankenstein, In the past, I had been cast in mostly ensemble or minor roles, I assumed it was because the director thought my Tourette’s would be a distraction to the audience. I did not care that I was probably going to be given the same sized role as I had in prior years, I sang my heart out and acted to the point where I left my audition exhausted. Two days later, I was cast as the lead, Dr. Fronkensteen. My Tourette Syndrome was no longer an obstacle in my eyes. I have learned that when I am on stage, my tics disappear. I am a completely different person. I worked as hard as I could to get to this point, proving I can be an inspiration to others. When I work my heart out, I can beat any obstacle, especially if it is something preventing me from doing what I love.

In Spamalot a musical I performed in last summer, there is a song called “Find Your Grail.” It is about finding what a person desires to make him happy. I have found my grail: theatre. It is the aspect of my life that has had the most major impact on my development as a young adult. Theatre has taught me the importance of leadership, confidence, and commitment, and aided in developing my creativity and communication skills, It has helped me grow into my shoes by teaching me that being who I want to be is what matters; no one else’s opinion should affect how I think of myself.

Finding my grail has completely changed the way I look at the world. One moment I thought I knew myself, and the next, I realized that my grail was not at all what I thought it was, Maybe my grail is being who I want to be, Maybe it is truly being myself, knowing that every day, my Tourette’s is not a disability, but a motivation to work harder. I am proud to say I have Tourette Syndrome, and I am proud to call myself an individual. I am who I want to be. I am Alec.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “Defining Myself”

This is an anonymous essay submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. We hope you enjoy it!

As I think about my journey in life so far there is a central theme of determination that truly has identified who I am. Around the third grade I became distracted just trying to manage what seemed like ridiculous and annoying random movements. These daily distractions interrupted my life as a child and so after many months of medical tests, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. The diagnosis gave me some answers and peace of mind yet I still struggled with many unanswered questions. I used to think that if I could just control the tics then I could get on with my life. However; it took medication and several types of therapy to help mask some of my tics. Sports were always a great distraction for me and became a stress releaser. I played just about any sport there was like travel soccer, baseball, lacrosse and eventually power lifting. While on the field I was free to be me and my opponents simply focused on the athlete in me and not necessarily the boy with Tourette’s. I have personally experienced the positive impact that sports can have on your confidence and sense of personal achievement. I have also witnessed the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment experienced through working as part of a team.

Furthermore, I have experienced roadblocks such as being asked to take study hall instead of wood shop and endured the brutality of bullying due to my condition. By the way, I took wood shop and earned an “A”. Fortunately, I have also always had the benefit of being part of a very close family which has motivated me to stand up for myself. They have continued to believe in me and encouraged me to be the best person that I can possibly be. I do not let difficulties stop me from succeeding, but accept the challenge to remain focused on my goals.

Staying focused on personal goals gives me purpose. I know that so much can be learned from sharing personal experiences with others. This gives us the insight to realize that even though we come from different backgrounds, origins or statuses that we all face many challenges. These challenges may not be obvious at first sight but they shape the people we have become. I know my perception of others has changed especially while working with special needs kids. Through the special needs soccer program I have experienced firsthand how a sense of accomplishment can brighten the face of a child. Each person has the ability to impact another person’s life and talents to share.

Finally, I think that having Tourette’s has made me even more determined to prove that I am so much more than a person with a condition. I am a person who sets goals and works tirelessly to reach those goals. I know that hard work and passion are what defines me. I will continue to follow my path to discover my destiny.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “The Climb”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

JordanS

JordanS

l’m sitting in class and it is completely silent. l’m terrified of silence. I get an urge, an urge so powerful that I can physically feel it traveling through my body. My heart is pounding as I tell myself, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it.” But I have no control. The sound comes out loud and clear. The next thing I hear is giggling, snickering, mocking. I look around and I see cruel eyes glaring at me, burning holes in my skin. I feel like a bug under a microscope. I have Tourette Syndrome.

I’ve always thought of school as a battle ground; a place full of people who just don’t understand. Weekday mornings were always a struggle. I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to feel inferior. I barely even understood my condition. All I knew was that I make noises and movements that were unwanted, and everybody found them funny; but I didn’t find them funny. Every insult, dirty look, and whisper knocked me down a little more, to the point where I couldn’t stick up for myself because the bullies stole my last bit of self-esteem. For once, I wanted to fit in, to not be the oddball, to be respected, to be understood. Most of all, to be accepted. Obviously, these wishes weren’t just going to be handed over, that’s unfortunately not how the world works. My family and I wanted things to be different; but we would have to make the difference ourselves.

I decided, as a terrified ten year old, to educate the whole school on my condition. lt was something I never thought I could do, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Each class watched a movie explaining Tourette Syndrome, and then I went in and answered questions that they had. Standing up in front of the first class, I had never been so nervous in my life. But as the day went on, it got a little easier. I could feel confidence growing in me again. I could feel that fire; the fire that was put out by the people who I once feared.

In just one day, I went from being taunted, to being admired. people are actually more accepting than I could have ever imagined. The world is brighter than I ever thought it could be. That day was so successful that I’ve done the same presentation all throughout middle school and high school. I now have thicker skin, self confidence, and an amazing support system. I walk through school with my head held high; which is a complete revolution from staring at my feet when I walk.

It has been said that many kids with Tourette’s are musically inclined. It was in sixth grade that I finally had the confidence to be in talent shows. I remember being so nervous about the possibility of having a tic on stage, but it was the exact opposite. As soon as I opened my mouth and sang, all of the tics went away. lt was like magic. Those three minutes of “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus showed everyone, including myself, that I am more than just a girl with Tourette Syndrome” I am a senior in high school now and I still haven’t stopped singing. I went from being “the girl with Tourette’s” to “the singer”. lt was a dream come true.

Although having Tourette’s isn’t easy, l wouldn’t change it. I no longer see it as a flaw, it makes me, me. I realized that it’s not the nightmare that I thought it was. It really has shaped me into the person I am today. When a new problem arises in my life, it’s easier to handle because I’ve already faced and conquered my biggest obstacle. I have finally accepted that my Tourette’s is a part of me. However, it isn’t all of me; because I have Tourette’s but Tourette’s doesn’t have me.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “My Story with Tourette’s”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

NyamekeS

NyamekeS

Ever since I was a child, I have had small symptoms of Tourette Syndrome. I use to blink my eyes multiple times, when I hiccuped it was extremely loud and annoying. I use to get made fun of because of my hiccups but it didn’t acquire to me or my parents that this had something to do with Tourette Syndrome. My parents and I didn’t notice my symptoms on February 2011. In February I had an attack where I couldn’t stop shaking my hands my head jerks quickly. I was rushed to the hospital where I was tested for several diagnoses but not Tourette Syndrome. Towards the end of my visit, they then brought a neurologist in who then proceeded to diagnosing me with T.S.

Since I was diagnosed with T.S., it was very challenging to accept myself. I always doubt myself thinking I couldn’t do anything. I questioned my parents and God blaming them for what I thought was a sickening disorder. Everyday during class I made my tics however, they were small and I made them slightly noticeable. As the years progressed, I started to feel comfortable with myself and my parents always told me “God will never give you something you can’t handle”. After hearing this quote and eventually believing it I started to open myself more and began to tell my teachers and close friends. My tics grew slightly bigger but I never tried to hide it. Last year, in my major class which is Child Development, we did a research project on children with special needs. I figured this was the perfect time to share what I know, learn and a bit about me to the majority of the class who didn’t know that I have Tourette Syndrome. Towards the end of the presentation I asked my class if they know anyone with Tourette, only two students raised their hands. I continued with saying “You should all raise your hand because I have Tourette Syndrome”. The class was shocked but they never left my side, they supported me through everything I did. They brought Tourette Syndrome awareness buttons for T.S. Awareness month. All of the students in my class made me realize, that if I can share my story, I can do anything I put my mind to.

As a future educator in the child development field, I want to spread the word about Tourette Syndrome. I don’t only want my students to be aware but my coworkers as well. Telling my coworkers and my students will spread the word to other coworkers, students family members until the whole state, better yet, country is aware of this motivational disorder. I want my preschoolers to know that just because people have disorders or may look different doesn’t mean they are different. I want them to learn about bullying and how it shouldn’t be practiced at all. As a future educator, I want my preschoolers to see the positive of everyone with a disorder and/or disability. People with disorders or disabilities are just as smart, caring, loving and friendly as people without disorders or disabilities. Yes, I have had some challenges and I am still going through them. But I also remember, just because I have Tourette Syndrome doesn’t make things impossible for me, just a little difficult.

2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “My Journey with Tourette”

This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

SanjitS

SanjitS

As each student finished presenting, another one would go up. My turn drew closer, and I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. I could feel my tics getting worse. I was shrieking, hitting myself, and sweating profusely with each passing second. What if I fail this project? What if people laugh at me? Will I embarrass myself? These questions haunted my mind and created a vicious cycle that would translate into loud vocal tics. After what felt like an eternity, it was finally my turn to present. I got through my presentation and to my surprise, I received cheering and applause. My name is Sanjit Singh and I have had Tourette syndrome since the 4th grade.

My journey towards reaching that milestone presentation was anything but an easy one. As my vocal and physical tics became more severe, so did the glances and stares from random strangers. I wished they would realize that the level of inconvenience they felt from my tics was nothing compared to all the hardships I had to deal with my entire life. Mundane tasks such as sitting in a library or going to concerts always made me second-guess myself because I was afraid that my tics would ruin the peace of others. Despite my considerate intentions, I endured years of bullying for a medical condition I have absolutely no control over. My confidence and self-esteem were at an all-time low, and I finally decided that it was time for me to define my life rather than let Tourette syndrome define it for me.

I choose to let my experiences inspire me. I started going to class with more confidence and eventually stopped caring about how others perceived me. With the help of the excellent support system in place at my high school for students like me, I started to do well on my homework and exams. I started to believe that being different didn’t always have to mean being worse. Having Tourette syndrome gives me a deeper understanding of human nature and puts me in the unique position to study Psychology and become a Special Education teacher for Elementary school. I love finding creative ways to reach out to young children. I have been known for my storytelling among preschoolers, as it riles up their enthusiasm and gets their imaginations running. I truly understand that all people go through their own battles. I never “judge a book by its cover”. I have developed much patience with people and have a strong desire to help them become the best versions of themselves. My goal is to use my experiences with Tourette syndrome to make the world a better place, by helping each person realize his full potential.