“Stand on right foot, jump up hard, land and stomp right foot harder than left. Crouch down, tap the ground, stand back up, right foot last.”
This is one of my tics. If I got it just right, I can be done….for now. If not, I repeat it again and again and again and again…..until it feels just right. Some days I do it hundreds of times.
My name is Roman, I’m nine years old, and what makes me different is that I have Tourette Syndrome (Tourette’s) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Tourette’s makes me have tics. I have so many, it is hard to remember or count them all. Some examples are eye movements, clothes pulling, hopping, blinking, counting to five (sometimes four) etc. My OCD makes my body feel like something is always wrong, out of balance, needs to be fixed. The right side of my body needs the last of everything. I have a compulsion to turn right, touch right, look right, pull right, lay right. If someone touches me, I have to touch them back (with my right index finger, of course). Sometimes people can see my tics, but sometimes it is just invisible feelings in my body that drive me crazy if I can’t fix them.
My body does the tics and compulsions automatically, even if I don’t want them to. Moving so much can make me exhausted, frustrated or sad. If other kids notice what I am doing, they might think it is weird or they might ask me why I’m doing it. My cross country team nicknamed me “Skippy” because I had a skipping tic when I ran in practice or a race. I’m still one of the fastest runners in my school. My personal record for a 3K race is 14:05. I probably could do better if I didn’t have to skip.
At school, my friend think it’s funny to touch me, because he knows I’ll freak out if I can’t touch him back. If I have to get out of line to touch him back, I might get in trouble. If he touches me right before he has to leave for the day, I can never finish the touch that my body needs to feel back to normal. It is torture when I can’t fix it. I might cry, or roll on the floor, or trick myself into thinking that I touched him. But nothing works and no one can understand. He is still my friend, but I wish he could stop doing it. I have gotten in trouble at school a few times because of something I couldn’t help.
My Tourette’s and OCD make every day a bit harder. But, when I think about it, they also make me, me. I am proud of who I am. I am very unique because of what I have. It was a hard
decision to write about this, because I kind of wish everyone could understand it–so they wouldn’t accidentally torture me. But I also kind of don’t like them knowing about my problems. However, my problems do have some advantages. It is probably because of my OCD I am very organized. My desk is the neatest in the class and my bedroom is the neatest
in the house (sometimes too neat). I don’t like anything to be out of place. My body is strong and healthy, and all of those tics keep me very active (it is probably why I am such a good and fast runner). I am learning to overcome the challenges, like not to be embarrassed about my tics if people see them. I want to be a better and stronger kid because I am living every day with Tourette’s and OCD. And I want to help other kids understand that some kids may be going through something, so you should treat everyone nicely–even if you don’t understand why they are acting that way.
That is why I decided to flaunt it!