It’s half term, and the children’s projects I help run are buzzing. Most of the children are familiar with my tics and aren’t at all fazed by them. I’m very used to answering questions about Tourettes and have a set of responses which are almost automatic. But this playscheme is the first since my ‘ticcing fits’ started, so I needed to update my answers and find simple, clear ways to explain this new development.
Initially I was apprehensive about having a fit in front of the children. But as I began to develop a way of explaining what was happening, I started to relax. The most challenging thing is that because I find it hard to speak when I’m fitting I can’t answer questions the moment they’re asked. When this happens my support worker and colleagues field the questions until I’m able to answer for myself.
On the whole the children have taken it all in their stride, though there was one exception, a young person who was mimicking the noise I make when I fit. I talked to him afterwards and explained how hurtful and unacceptable this was. He was visibly embarrassed and apologised in a heartfelt way. I accepted his apology and made sure we played on the pedal go-karts together later so he could see I wasn’t angry with him.