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Rising Above T.S.

A Toastmasters Testimonial.
(Published in The Founder (District Newsletter) in the 1997-98 Year.)


          Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a genetic disease which is characterized by a chemical dysfunction in the back of the brain resulting in highly abnormal motor and vocal behavior, called Tics, obsessive Rituals (i.e. washing you hands 4 times before you are convinced they are clean and sanitary), ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and Impaired job performances. The reason I know so much about this sort of thing is I have had TS all my life.
         TS also hinders social development. It is very hard for a person with TS to sit down and visit and so conversation skills do not develop properly. Also, Teenagers with TS are often the target of verbal and physical abuse by their teenage peers, simply because teenagers with TS are "Different" This kind of social scrutiny causes teenagers with TS to shy away for fear of being  humiliated. Again, social development is hindered, and at a time of life when social development is the most crucial. All this is why I joined Toastmasters seven years ago.
      During the Fall of 1990, I met Dr. Jennifer Tom, ATM-S. We went out a few times. It didn't take Jennifer long to recognize my lack of social and communication skills, and so she told me about Toastmasters International, and how the organization could help me. In early November of 1990, I took the plunge, and joined Toastmasters. During the last seven years, I have gone through the entire Toastmasters Program. All in all, Toastmasters has done wonders in improving my communication and social skills. The one thing that has really helped me to develop my conversation skills is Table Topics., and speaking "Off the cuff". It has gotten to the point where I can now speak off the cuff a lot more fluently than when I first joined Toastmasters; and so, I can carry on conversations a lot more fluently as well. Evaluating other speakers also has helped in developing my ability to speak off the cuff; and in addition to that, it has helped me to rise above my weak attention span associated with TS, and be a better "Listener".
           Leadership has also played an important role in developing my social skills. When I served as Area C-2 Governor in the Founder's District in 1994-95, I developed better social skills simply by learning to work together with various club officers in my area to achieve certain goals. All this required "Rising Above TS" and that is exactly what I did. Area C-2 finished as a "Select Distinguished Area" ranking #4 in the Founder's District during the 1994-95 fiscal year.
           And so, this is why I strongly recommend Toastmasters for others with Tourette's Syndrome, and for that matter, for other people in general.


Bill's Tartan.

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