Sources of Strength

2016-0801TS Tic

By Zachary S. Wiersma | Science

Snap, cluck, snap! The noises rang out in the conference hall. Several people turned toward me to see what was causing the disturbance. As I walked down the aisle to join my graduate school lab mate, I jerked my head to the left and snapped my fingers in my right ear, continuing to draw attention to myself. But when the presentation began, I forgot about how others might see me. I focused solely on the science, even though I clucked my tongue, tightened my right calf, and thrust out my right arm throughout the presentation. None of it was intentional: I suffer from Tourette syndrome (TS), a neurological condition that compels me to perform involuntary repetitive movements and vocalizations known as tics. And I wasn’t embarrassed. In fact, after some years of struggling with the potential negative impact of my TS, I now consider it to be an asset.

“We can all allow our disabilities to be sources of strength.”

When I was a child, my tics did not cause any serious problems. But as I got older and thought about my future career and how professional colleagues would perceive me, I worried my TS might impede my dreams. By the time I began college, I was acutely self-conscious about my disorder and worried that it might distract teachers and fellow students or deter them from interacting with me.

To read the entire article, click here.


Thanks to Zachary S. Wiersma for sharing his story; Science for committing its resources to publishing the story; Google for helping me find the story; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture, text, and links in this post.

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