The Syndrome That Won’t Stay Silent

Donte Winrow is our featured youth blogger this month. Donte is an 18-year-old advocate for youth with disabilities.

At a young age, I noticed myself making these sounds and I had no idea what it was.

I was a kid. I thought everything was normal. My mother didn’t think much of it either. As I got older and began grade school, those sounds came along with me and other students my age started noticing. Kids started to mimic me, and look at me like I wasn’t even human. I tried playing the sounds off, but nothing would work.

Imagine living through elementary school, making these noises, with no one to tell you why, and no one to vent to that has the same problem. I was all on my own. I had to figure out ways to manage with it.

The administrators would send me to the school psychologist, expecting that it would help. The psychologist doesn’t have my condition. He knew nothing about it. It was no help at all. My mother even took me to see a doctor, and he had options, but no direct answers with what was going on with me.

Towards my last years of grade school, I started to move rapidly. My fingers would snap, my head will shake, and I couldn’t stop. It felt like I was forced to do these movements, which would cause pain on various body parts. Picture yourself in a classroom full of students making sounds, and twitching, and having no explanation to tell anyone. No one knew what was wrong with me. Every single day I would be embarrassed to be around people at school, because of name calling, mimicking and rumors.

A year later I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.

I am now 18 years old and I still catch people staring at me when I tic, and catch them laughing at it. I still get embarrassed but it is so much easier to brush it off, knowing my condition, and knowing that it is now explainable.

Individuals sometimes laugh at the unusual noises I make because they don’t know my condition, and many people often misjudge me because of it. At one middle school assembly all the students were talking loudly, and when everyone is loud, I feel comfortable enough to tic freely, and without stress. Once the assembly started, everyone settled down but me, the guy in charge of the assembly pointed me out in front of 200 students, and told me to be quiet. What he didn’t know was that I have a condition that forces me to make loud noises. After the assembly was over I apologized and told him why I was being loud, and he also apologized for misjudging me. He learned that no one should assume or judge someone that you don’t know.

Life will throw blows at you and you can dodge many of them but then there are those blows that you have to take and accept that it is what’s going to make you stronger.

I have battled through various obstacles that helped define who I am today. When life puts us through struggles the first thing many of us do is count how many flaws there are. We don’t stop to think of the good things that can come from it. It is very possible to get positive results out of a bad situation but YOU must choose how you want to look at it. Adjusting your mindset can be life changing.

The biggest punch that life threw at me, was Tourettes Syndrome. It was my biggest challenge. I use to think that my condition was a curse, that I was going to be held back from dreams, that there were no cure for it. But I AM the cure. I AM my medicine. All of the anger and depressing emotions I have gotten, from my condition, gave me motivation. I let anger drive me into the motivation I needed to succeed and achieve any goal I pursued. If anyone offered me the chance to relive my life without my condition, I’d reply a million times, “No!” It built my confidence and personality. It’s beyond just a condition; it became a part of me.

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