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wtfrickinfrack's avatar

How can I get my classmates to be more understanding of my TS?

Asked by wtfrickinfrack (1345 points ) February 10th, 2010

Back story: I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) when I was in the 2nd grade. As you might imagine, it was difficult growing up in the midst of ignorant kids who thought it was either the weirdest or the most hilarious thing they’ve ever seen. Anyway – as I got older and progressed into more “mature” environments, it got a LOT easier. Since my last few years of high school, I’ve been able to give a quick intro to coworkers/classmates saying something like: I have TS and it causes me to make movements and/or sounds that I can’t control. I apologize for any disruption this might cause but I want you guys to know that it is completely involuntary. As much as I expect you to tolerate me, I understand that this is probably new and bizarre to you so I promise to do my best to tolerate your acclimation to me as well.

Now on to the problem at hand! Like I mentioned above… it’s extremely rare to come across someone who refuses to be understanding of my situation. Although when someone does react negatively, I do my best to discount them as someone who isn’t worth my time and I try to move on. But sometimes it isn’t that easy. For example, I’m working on a group project in one of my classes and the students I was assigned to work with are being so difficult. My tics are fairly mild (eye blinking, throat clearing, and head tilting) so you would think that once you get used to being around me, it’s something you could eventually overlook – right? Not so with these girls. They act like I’m the most distracting person in the world and I’m running out of ways to “educate” them like most therapists or TS websites tell you to do. It’s really starting to wear thin and I’m so close to dropping the course. Any advice? :/

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20 Answers

Snarp's avatar

Can you ask to move to a different group?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well, thank you for sharing – it’s important that more people get familiar with TS. I’d say that one of the things you can do is always tell the teacher (s) about it and ask them to step in when necessary so it doesn’t see to these (mean) peers of yours that you’re ‘educating’ them – and also remember to blame their parents (okay, so this isn’t so constructive) because if their parents had the sense to raise them in an open-minded fashion, they wouldn’t be this way.

Cruiser's avatar

I agree with Snarp…ask for a reassignment.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

Well, it’s just for one group project right? Can you take it for a bit longer? Maybe try to get through this project, and talk to the teacher after so that you’ll never have to work with them again.

janbb's avatar

You shouldn’t have to be continually educating these girls if they haven’t gotten it yet. I agree – ask to be moved or talk to the teacher.

And, by the way, Welcome to Fluther! You really communicated your question well.

tinyfaery's avatar

Just yell at them to fuck-off and say it was a tic. Do it everytime they act like superior bitches.

Sampson's avatar

If you can’t be reassigned and they still don’t get it, become an alpha and say, “Look bitches, if you can’t get it into your stupid little brains that I’m this way, then shut the fuck up about it!”

bellusfemina's avatar

I’ve never met anyone with TS, so I’m sorry you have to go through that. I’m sure you’re a very nice person that deserves acceptance like everyone else.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Don’t drop that course because of those girls!You can get through it!Now go KSA!;))

kysutherncomfrt's avatar

my 12 year old has the very same tics..he just started middle school..i was worried about the other kids and how they would react..but like you said,all you can do is try to eduacate them and thats what i did..the school talked to all the kids in his classes. he gets asked questions just like im sure you have a million times. but no matter what you do there are always gonna be ignorant and close minded people. hold your head up,make yourself happy dont let anyone make you change the path youre on over this..cause those are the ones that obvously arent worth it.

marinelife's avatar

Consider asking the principal for an assembly about Tourette’s Syndrome. Write to a famous person with Tourette’s and ask if they can come address your school. Like Baseball Player Jim Eisenreich.

6rant6's avatar

You might try divide and conquer.

Pick one of the group, maybe the leader. Send her an e-mail praising her “way with people.” Tell her you’d like to meet privately with her to see if there’s any way you two could work it out so that you can feel like you’re a welcome and contributing part of the group.

Obviously you run the risk of rejection, even humiliation. But if it works, you’ve got a convert – not just for your situation but for the next person who comes along and appears a bit different.

Arisztid's avatar

It sounds like they are willfully ignoring your attempts to educate them. This is just one way to pick on you. If you did not have TS they would find something else.

I may be wrong but what I have heard of TS, tics can be set off or increased in frequency by stress. If this is so and you believe that disturbance is the actual problem with them, I would point this out to them, telling them that if they keep badgering you, expect to be more “disturbing.” However, since I do not believe their picking on you has to do with being “disturbed,” that would not stop a thing.

Fact are I have been in classrooms with folks with TS who have more severe tics than you do. It is not disruptive… they are being asses, flat out.

Probably all I would suggest is to ask to be moved from that class assignment or ask the teacher to take more direct measures to stop the pestering. If that is not possible, put them on cold ignore.

Now, I would not do it but @tinyfaery s idea of shouting “fuck off,” claiming it as a tic is funny. That is the sort of thing I would do. :)

Snarp's avatar

I do think that these girls have a serious problem. As you’ve noted people should get used to this, and with close association any kind of disability (for want of a better word, I don’t mean to be insulting by using it) should essentially become invisible. When I was in high school one of my best friends was a paraplegic and as I got to know him I sort of stopped noticing the wheel chair. I now have a brother in law with cerebral palsy and a sister in law who was a thalidomide baby and I completely forget that they are different. Sometimes I feel rude because I don’t give them the assistance they need because I’ve totally forgotten that they need it, but I think they understand. If one can stop noticing a wheel chair, the speech and movement problems of someone with CP, and the lack of arms of a thalidomide baby, then one can easily stop noticing your mild tics. They have obviously chosen to focus on them instead. This is why, if they are unwilling to be reasonably tolerant, you might want to try switching groups. Definitely talk to your instructor about the trouble you are having. It’s not ratting, you just need reasonable accommodation.

wtfrickinfrack's avatar

Thanks for all of the great responses! After all of this encouragement I think I’d get struck by lightning if I dropped the course lol Anyway I have an appointment to speak with the instructor tomorrow – so fingers crossed! Thanks again, everyone!

Arisztid's avatar

@wtfrickinfrack Drop a line as to what happens with the instructor and good luck!

lfino's avatar

Along the lines of what @6rant6 said, I think there’s a good chance that one of these girls is the ringleader, and the others are going along with the ringleader. I don’t know how many girls there are, but it’s a possibility that at least one of them feels bad for refusing to work with you, but it’s easier than going against the ringleader. See if you can pick out which one is the ‘follower’ and talk to her. Educate her all over again and explain why this is hard for you, and how you expected things to get better as people matured. She may listen if she’s one on one with you. I can’t promise that she’ll come over to your side, but you can give her the ‘why did you just fuck me over?’ look if she doesn’t help you out, and somewhere inside she’ll hopefully feel regret, and you can at least feel better knowing that she’ll eventually burn in hell.

wtfrickinfrack's avatar

I met with my professor and she was super understanding :) I’m getting moved to a different group this week! Woohoo!!

Thanks for the support, everyone! xoxo

janbb's avatar

@wtfrickinfrack Thanks so much for letting us know.

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