Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sign Language Offers a New Direction

by Debbie Brown

Cory Sweet was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in the 7th grade. For a while, the constant ticcing and twitching transformed the happy, well mannered, "A" student into a physically exhausted and depressed young man. Between the harassment at school and his body jerking at night, he retreated and was tutored at home for eight weeks.

Eventually his family began attending a new church, His Tabernacle Family Church, which happened to do sign language during the service. Cory started moving his hands and signing, melding his unintentional complex motor tics into this eloquent language of movement.

Now Cory is now a senior in High School in Horseheads, New York and was recently appointed the leader of his church's sign language ministry. He has received a scholarship to attend the University of Rochester, where he will prepare for medical school. Rochester has a large deaf student body and Cory is excited about communicating with his new classmates.

This fall he is in the New Visions Program for accelerated college-bound seniors interested in pursuing careers in healthcare. Cory plans to become a neurologist so he can help others with TS and movement disorders.

"Sign language is an important part of my life because it is how I control my tics and I'm able to go out into public without people staring at me because of my tics", Cory said.

When asked what advice he'd give other teenagers with TS, Cory said, "You need to make a decision to not let TS control your life. Don't let it stop you from doing what you love. Understand that you are not alone; there are others who are going through the same thing, and find support whether it be from your family, friends, teachers or church. Don't seclude yourself; get involved in things like sports, band, volunteer or other extra-curricular activities."

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