One of the greatest joys in my professional life is when I am able to help facilitate change and see progress with clients. Watching them feel happy again or inspired is the best validation for me. Even when the progress is slow they still feel better.
But my first job will always be a mom. Like they say it is the hardest job you will ever love. I am so proud of all 4 of my children. My oldest is a mom herself with 2 beautiful kids and a successful medical assistant. Then I have 2 other girls, 14 and 12 years old and the youngest is my son at 10. Hunter was a very bright boy scoring 1 to 2 grades ahead. At around 4 years old he would clear his throat all the time. I really did not think much of it and then as fast as it started it would stop. A while later it was bobbing his head up and down. Then again it would stop after a few weeks. Back to clearing his throat or weird noises. We would tell him to stop but he wouldn’t and it would make it worse. In kindergarten, they told me they thought he had Tourettes. I had heard of it but was not very informed on it. He, unfortunately, has the swearing type of Tourettes. It only affects about 10% of people with it. He would say shit 100 times an hour. So imagine taking a 6-year-old out shopping while saying that. The looks we would get would make me upset. If we were at the doctor’s office I would ask to be roomed so he did not do it around the other kids.We had to make light of it because it was a constant for about 2 to 3 weeks at a time. When a 6-year-old looks at you and said “Shit Mom I love you” You had to just smile at him.When he got the diagnosis we were also told he had ADHD. That is common for a person to have both or OCD.
He has struggled with angry outbursts and anxiety from this. They say trying to tell someone with Tourettes to stop the behavior is like telling someone with Parkinson’s to stop shaking. The more stressed they are the worst it gets. He has said he wished he was dead when the tics were in full force. Tics can be painful to the body. His constant head bobbing usually creates a bad headache. Physical pain is one thing but the emotional pain is another. Children and adults have been rude with staring or the words they use. He is just a regular little boy with a huge heart that happens to do things once in a while that makes him stand out. As a parent watching your child suffer and then hearing about how kids ignore him or make fun of him is incredibly frustrating and painful. He is 10 now and has a fantastic teacher who works with him during his rough moments. But he still hears kids taunting and not playing with him.
It is really hard to see people think it is funny to swear or make bodily movements and blame it on Tourettes. I would love to invite them to spend a day with my son or another person with it and discover WHO they are and then how they are treated. I will forgive a child for teasing before I will an adult. It is wrong and frankly pathetic to tear someone down because of something they cannot control. They are not the syndrome. They are just as intelligent or more than the regular person, they usually have more compassion because of years of teasing and honestly they just want to be accepted. As he grows older the tic episodes are becoming further apart which helps and I pray that he outgrows it. I am concerned that he is going into middle school next year and how he handles it. If I have to we will do online or homeschooling. I do not want to see him struggle with bullying. He already knows he is different and does not need to be reminded in an unkind way every day. My goal is to change the face of Tourettes.