By Melissa C. Water
A young woman in line at the cash register giggles into her boyfriend’s shoulder while referencing my noises. Most around us grow quiet except for that of the continuous laughter inspired by my ever present tics.
While some ignore what is out of the ordinary in an effort to be polite, others defy manners and clumsily point out the obvious.
One might forget that those affected by Tourette Syndrome are clever, intelligent, funny people with a unique perspective to offer. Those who can never be invisible, or never be the proverbial flower on the wall, might have something valuable to say about standing out while blending in.
The snickering, the staring, and the averting eyes are a constant reminder of being different in a world where we all strive to fit in. When we need to learn to get by with everyone watching our condition unfold, we grow an ability to focus past the incredible stimulus in our surroundings while overcoming the spontaneity Tourette Syndrome incites.
We are not purposefully putting ourselves on display, nor can we hide, though in the streets when passing by police officers and having no choice but to yell, “Call the cops!” We develop a sense of others and of ourselves. There’s nothing more real than absorbing various reactions and walking with our heads high, knowing who we’ve grown to be can be attributed to a difference that can bring us together.
It’s a life lesson we build on whether we chose to speak out, or keep to ourselves the fact that our little noises are tics, though right or wrong is not met within this decision.
I would take a moment to express gratitude for those of you who strive to support, and those who see beyond the noises for the individuals they rightfully are.
We are not just background noise; we are people.
- Melissa is the Virtual Support Coordinator at Tourette Canada. She can be reached at