Tic Talk: Living with Tourette Syndrome: A 9-Year-Old Boy’s Story In His Own Words
By: Dylan Peters
Publisher: Little Five Star (3rd Edition)
Publication Date: July 2009
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2009
Dylan Peters is just a typical boy who loves to play sports, has subjects in school he likes, probably has a few he doesn’t, has lots of friends and comes from a family who loves and believes in him. In one way he is not typical, but for the most part, unless you knew otherwise, you would probably think he was being silly when he blinked his eyes rapidly or opened his mouth wide (really wide!). Dylan has Tourette Syndrome, or “TS for short.” It all began when he was four years old. He claims that “I started to jerk my head uncontrollably” and his parents grew very concerned and eventually he ended up at a neurologist’s for testing.
It was a very frightening situation all around, but at least it wasn’t a life-threatening diagnosis. It was an embarrassing situation for Dylan to be in because he was worried that his assortment of tic and “uncontrollable body movements” would set him apart from the other children at school. In his own words about TS, “It’s like your brain has a mission to annoy you and make everyone around you notice these bizarre actions.” He didn’t want anyone to know about his TS, so it was kept a secret for a long time. The tics did seem to get worse and the neurologist prescribed a medication that wouldn’t eliminate them, but would reduce them. One of his teachers knew about his condition, but vowed to “keep it a secret,” but how long could this go on? His tics were very noticeable at times.
By the time Dylan hit the second grade he was trying out a “new medicine that helped slow down my tics, but they were still there.” Kids were starting to notice and were questioning him. He was getting all stressed out and worried and those emotions, in and of themselves, could cause tics. It was time. He could no longer keep his Tourette Syndrome a secret. His mother was going to accompany him to school and he was going to talk to his class about TS. Mrs. Sudhalter began to lead the class through the game of differences, “Stand Up-Sit Down.” This was enough to make anyone tick like a clock. Tic, tic, tic . . . were the other children going to understand or would Dylan lose all his friends?
Dylan had to make the difficult choice of telling his classmate that he had TS, a confession that could possibly leave him friendless. I loved his easy, but informative way of writing. He does an excellent job of giving out the specifics of the disorder while making sure to inform the reader that it’s not an easy thing to live with nor disguise. This is an important book because it is written by someone who actually suffers from it. The black and white art work, done by his friend Zachary Wendland, adds a lot to this story. The forward is by Major League baseball Player Jim Eisenreich, a fellow sufferer. In the back of the book is a brief section on strategies and special accommodations that need to be kept in mind when working with a child who has TS.
Quill says: If you would like to know about Tourette Syndrome, this book would be an excellent place to start!