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June 02, 2015Posted in: Programs & Resources, Service Users & Volunteers, TS + Tagged:

Transitioning to College Life With Tourette (Part 1)

n this blog series, Zachary Benayon, Social Media Ambassador for Tourette Canada shares his experience with overcoming the challenges associated with transitioning to Post-Secondary Education.

Part 1: Worries and How to Over Come Them  

Transitioning to Post-Secondary Education can be tough especially if you have Tourette Syndrome or Tourette

Syndrome Plus (TS and associated disorders). It is a big step, one that comes with a lot of extra responsibility. Whether you are transitioning to living away from home or staying local, it can be really hard to adjust to a new school and new environment.

I know because I myself have Tourette Syndrome and other associated disorders that come with it. Two years ago, I transitioned from high school to college and it was not only an anxious time for me, but also for my parents.

I planned to go to a school that was out of town and I was worried about getting bullied and not fitting in. Thinking positively was one strategy that helped me to stay calm. I thought about all the good experiences I could get from going away. Next, I weighed out the pros and cons. Once I thought about it, I realized that for me, the pros weighed out the cons.

The support that I received to help me transition was enormous. In addition to my parents, I received support from doing CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), which was the best kind of therapy that I ever had. I met with a psychologist for an hour every other week for two years. CBT helped me prepare for the real world and it helped me be aware of my surroundings. It also improved my relationships. I believe that doing CBT before college really helped to set me up for success.

Another thing that helped me transition was going to the open house at my college. It gave me a chance to check out the school, where my program was located and see the different residence buildings. Realizing that everybody was in the same boat as me and that this experience was new to everyone also made things easier.

It took my parents and me all day to get me moved in to residence. That first night was tough – with a new bed and new surroundings, falling asleep was tough. However, it was also really exciting. The next morning, there was a big meeting where all the people in residence met their RA – Residence Advisor. RAs are students who are there to help you settle into your new home. The Residence Life Manager, who supported the RA, was also really helpful and approachable. All this to say, even though it may feel lonely when you get there, you are not alone! There are lots of people there to help.

I was nervous about going to frosh week. I worried about the big crowds and possibly embarrassing myself. One of the things that helped me was going with an old friend from back home. He introduced me to a lot of new people. The Student Union did a great job running frosh and really made everyone feel welcome. Some of the people I met at frosh week I am still friends with today. I enjoyed the atmosphere and began to feel that I was a part of a community.  Overall, I feel like frosh week was a good starting point for my social life at college.

I knew that eventually, the day would come when I would move out of my family home. I thought to myself that going away to college would be a great head start, one that would give me the opportunity to learn the basic skills that I need for the future. In the end, the transition was actually pretty smooth and I realized I was worried for nothing. Sure, I had every right to be nervous, but looking at it in a positive way really did calm my nerves down. To this day, I still say it was the best thing that ever happened to me.


Enjoyed reading this blog? Check out Part 2 of this blog series which will be out on Wednesday. In Part 2, Zachary Benayon talks about the academic supports he received in college and how they helped him succeed in a tough program. 

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