Last week, I was saddened to read an article describing how a ten-year-old boy felt humiliated on the school bus because of his Tourette Syndrome (TS). The child has coprolalia, a verbal tic that causes him to involuntarily swear or say inappropriate phrases. On his ride home from school, the bus driver allegedly grabbed the boy by his shirt in front of the other students and told him to stop swearing. While the specific incident is being investigated, this situation gives us all a chance to reflect on the need for ongoing awareness, understanding, and compassion.
Having met so many children – and adults – with Tourette and coprolalia, I can tell you with certainty that if the little boy was swearing, no one wanted him to stop more than the boy himself. People with Tourette are often at the mercy of their neurological disorder, which unfortunately subjects them to judgment, anger, criticism and cruelty – in a word, “bullying.”
October is National Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month, so it’s the ideal time to be vigilant about treating others with compassion and respect. At the Tourette Association, we are rallying all the troops to advance this effort, partnering with Jaylens Challenge Foundation - Bullying No Way, PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center (NBPC), International OCD Foundation, and CHADD - Children & Adults with ADHD. In fact, on October 13th 2-3pm, we will be conducting a joint twitter chat the International OCD Foundation and on October 18th 7-8pm we’ll host a webinar on Co-Occuring Conditions and Tourette. You can learn more at tourette.org/events
I invite you to be part of the movement to stop stigma and bullying – because no one should ever feel humiliated by who they are.