Tourette Syndrome. Most people think of swearing. 10-year-old Christian Martinez Moreno, born in Lincolnton, knows it's more.
Christian can't control what his body does. He makes "tick" noises. Has rapid eye movements. Face grimacing. Head rocking. Full body shakes. He hits his face with his fists, make noises, moans and randomly starts clapping his hands.
His mom says he was officially diagnosed three years ago.
"This is a neurological disorder my son can't help," Virginia Turner told me last night. "There is no cure. For an assignment last year in school he had to write in his journal. He wrote, 'Tourette has ruined my life.' It breaks my heart.
People make fun of him and are blind to how that impacts his self-worth. He gets stared at often and yelled at more. We can't even go to the movies. Adults have said he shouldn't be allowed in public."
As horrible as that all is, that's not why Virginia said she wrote.
She reached out because she wants help to educate schools.
"Last year Christian had a hard time in 3rd grade," she said. "Teachers called him 'distracting'. His doctor finally called the principal and after that we had the support of classmates and the administration. It was great. He made the A/B honor roll all year long. But it didn't help when he took the End of Grade tests. They didn't go well and we were told he had to attend a reading program this summer to advance in school."
Virginia says when she took Christian to the first day of this reading program, the news hadn't been passed down that Christian was living with TS.
"The school didn't know," she said. "I tried to educate them. He has a 504 and we had set up that plan to work with his disability. But students started mimicking him. The teachers told him to tell an adult when something happened, but that's hard for him because he is a sweet boy who has dealt with retaliation before and doesn't like confrontation."
Last week, Virginia says she received a call her son was complaining of a stomachache. She could hear Christian "ticking" in the background. The day before, she says, Christian had been mocked through lunch, so much so, his one really good friend was crying because no one trying to help stop the ridicule.
"It's a tough situation," Virginia said. "He is scared to go to school. Please help my child. Please help others like him. Please explain to people that Tourette Syndrome is a disability. He had no choice in the decision to have TS or not. I blame myself sometimes for not being able to make him feel better. He doesn't deserve this."
I'm not naming the school. Intentionally.
This is not a blame game.
This isn't about what school board members Virginia has talked to, or which principal or what teacher.
In my eyes, this is about anyone whose child is "different" and knows how hard it is to make others understand. Christian is ten years old. He didn't ask for any of this.
He needs this reading course to get to 4th grade. Yet, his mom is scared to send him. It's devastating. Especially when you see him so happy with his honor roll certificate (picture attached).
So, please. Help educate. Whether about Tourette -- that you hopefully now know a little more about -- or other things that make kids stand out.
Teach kids to be kind and protective of someone not like them.
The email from Christian's mom was signed beautifully: "Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Virginia Turner - Proud mother of a child with Tourette Syndrome"
**Editor's note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there, which is why it's written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.
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