I find myself getting asked hundreds of questions every day at the moment. Most of them are about things like, ‘Can we have a water fight?’ ‘When’s it time for juice and biscuits?’ or ‘Can you fix my bike?’ But the children spending the summer playing at the projects I work for are also asking questions about Tourettes and disability.
I’m very used to explaining my tics to children and I’ve had loads of lovely conversations about why I say “biscuit” for example. This summer I’ve noticed the wheelchair’s introduced a slightly new slant. Here are five of the most common questions, and my answers.
Q: Can you walk?
TH: Yes I can, but in a very wobbly way so I use the wheelchair to help, otherwise I fall down a lot.
Q: Why are you disabled?
TH: I have Tourettes Syndrome, which means I make noises and movements my body can’t control. I can still do most things you do, but sometimes I do them in a different way or have to ask for a bit of help.
Q: Has her body taken over? (This is asked when I’m having a ‘ticcing fit’)
Support Worker: She’s OK but she needs me to help her at the moment. She’ll come and answer your questions in a bit.
Q: Can I push you?
TH: Yes (if it’s practically possible)
Q: Are you going to be in the Paralympics?
TH: No, it’s not part of my summer plan.
I’m careful to make sure both the children and my colleagues feel confident asking me questions about my tics. I much prefer people to ask questions than to be left wondering or making assumptions. I’ve had loads of interesting conversations as a result and learnt loads of things about other people’s experiences of disability.