PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, NOT DISABILITIES WITH PEOPLE

Over the past three weeks, the BBC has shown a documentary (WATCH BELOW) which featured musically talented individuals with Tourette’s syndrome (TS). Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological condition characterised by uncontrollable motor and/ or verbal tics. At the time of writing, there is no known cause of the condition and hence, treatments are still being developed.

In the programme, DJ/ TV presenter Reggie Yates interviewed each of the individuals to find out the severity of their TS and the extent to which their condition has affected their lives. Reggie also found that their tics however severe disappeared whenever they sing or play a musical instrument. Doing so gave them a sense of calm. These individuals were then brought together in a studio and over a period of eight weeks, they rehearsed for a concert which they performed in front of a lot of people.

I felt that the series showed how their diagnoses are only a part of their personalities. Each of them has an incredible talent which, sadly has been over-shadowed by their Tourette’s. More often than not, people tend only to focus on what people cannot do rather than what they can do. The reason why I wrote the last sentence is due to the comments made in Twitter. Almost every tweet mentioned how great, wonderful and gifted this group of people are and that their ability to stand up and sing on the concert was a massive achievement- almost a miracle. While I agree to all of those statements, I was amazed how surprised these people are with what they saw. To me, this highlights the need for us to get to know each individual that we meet, regardless of whether they have a physical and/ or psychological condition or not, as a whole person. We should not let others’ disabilities mask who they truly are. Yes, their conditions are a part of themselves and that we need to tailor our behaviours and language to their needs. But their conditions are a fraction of a whole person. Focus on what they CAN, not on what they CAN’T do.

Working with students with Special Educational Needs gave me the opportunity to see how each individual, regardless of their condition, have a unique set of strengths, limitations and extraordinary talent. Majority of students who were surrounded with people who have a clear understanding of their diagnoses and the willingness to get to know them have flourished beyond what most professionals expected. So please, open your mind, throw stereotypes out of the window and get to know each person as a whole.

Here’s the whole series:

Part 1:

Part 2:

 

Part 3

 

People in th UK can also watch Part 3 on BBC iplayer: CLICK HERE

 

For more information on Tourette’s Syndrome, click on the links below:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Tourette’s Action UK

NHS webpage for Tourette’s

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