During my first months on WordPress, I searched for blogs to read. One I found was written by a young professional with Autism. It never before occurred to me that someone with Autism might have an office job, a job with goals and projects and deadlines. A job like mine. I was also surprised to find that many of her posts recounted troubles in the workplace that mirrored my own. I wanted to learn more about Autism.
I started searching for other Autism blogs, I found a million. The best was Autism in Our Nest, written by Robyn Coupe. Like me, Robyn told stories to illustrate her points. Not only was I learning about Autism but I was learning about her family as well–she writes beautifully about her two children with Autism. I got hooked.
Autism in Our Nest is a well followed blog. If you pop over to read it, take a look at the comments. There will be a lot of them, and you’ll notice at once how much everyone seems to care for Robyn. She’s let everyone be part of her family.
I’m completely unsurprised Robyn was the first person to take up my offer to write a guest post about her impressions of Tourette Syndrome. She’s a giving person, a loyal friend. It’s exactly who she is.
I stepped up to the counter and waited patiently for the receptionist to get off the phone.
Behind her, a nurse loudly cleared his throat.
The receptionist hung up from her call and asked me for my name. After I gave it, the nurse yelled, “BACK!”
I looked at him, and then back to the receptionist. I had seen this nurse before. He didn’t yell then.
Maybe he has a cold, I thought.
I nodded and went to find a seat in the waiting room as instructed.
As I sat waiting, I heard the nurse walking around the hallway of the patient rooms. Loudly clearing his throat and every so often, yelling single words.
Eventually the nurse opened the door into the waiting room. He opened his mouth wide and pulled his jaw back. Then he called me back to a patient room.
As I walked through the door, the nurse cleared his throat again. As we walked to the scale before heading into a patient room, he yelled, “BACK!”
“I’m sorry,” the nurse began, “I have Tourette Syndrome.”
“Oh. Okay,” I replied.
I wonder if he is going to start throwing curse words out soon.
“My symptoms just started flaring up in the past few months. But I am working on them here with the Doctors.”
“Okay,” I replied and nodded standing on the scale.
I wonder if he threw curse words out before and he had to have a talk with the Doctors.
I wonder if they told him they would have to let him go if he started cursing.
Can they fire him for his symptoms?
Can he control them?
He must just curse when he gets home. He must have cleaned it up for his job.
The rest of the check in process continued in the same matter. In between his questions and my answers there was a lot of him clearing his throat. A lot of jaw pulling. After he exited the patient room leaving me to wait for the Doctor, I had one final thought.
I wonder if he has to explain himself to every patient. That would suck.
After listening to the nurse in the hallways throughout my appointment, I left, went home and did what I always did after hearing about a syndrome that didn’t affect me.
In my mind I already had Tourette Syndrome figured out.
Tourette was the syndrome that made people yell curse words. It was a syndrome that was laughed at because hearing someone yelling curse words repeatedly is kind of funny.
Over the summer my autistic son went to an overnight camp for kids with special needs. I got a very high-level review of his trip from him when it was over, but one thing did stick out for him to tell me.
“Every night Mark would come back to the cabin and yell the F word. Over and over. He just walked back and forth yelling the F word.”
My husband replied, “Isn’t that Tourette’s?”
“Maybe,” I answered, ” But maybe Mark is autistic, and the cursing is a stim to soothe himself. Either way, he probably didn’t want to curse. He probably needed to.”
I wonder what the difference between a tic and stim is?
From my time meeting with the nurse at my Doctor’s office to the time my son went away to an overnight camp I ran across Jeff’s blog, The Other Stuff.
In Jeff’s blog I learned more about Tourette Syndrome than I ever knew. Tourette isn’t just some dude cursing repeatedly. Although I guess it’s possible, it isn’t an expectation.
I didn’t really think about the nurse much after our meeting. The throat clearing, jaw pulling, and word yelling were just details my mind remembered. I am sure if I were to see him again, I would pick up on a lot more of his tics that I hadn’t known about before reading and learning more about Tourette Syndrome.
One thing I am more aware of – the nurse is not enjoying his tics. He’s dealing with them.
I left the office that day and did what I wanted to do in full control of my body.
The nurse went on with his day at the mercy of his body. Doing his best to suppress or control what he could and unleashing all that he couldn’t.
Thanks to Jeff, I have a greater understanding and awareness of Tourette Syndrome. I am sure I am only at the tip of the iceberg, but hey, it’s a start. And it’s all thanks to Jeff.
Keep it up, Jeff. You’re doing a great job!
If you would like to write a guest post, take a look at THIS.