A Connecticut teen is hoping to change the stigma surrounding Tourette Syndrome.
Sixteen-year-old Dante Wu of Willington was chosen as one of only 22 kids nationwide to be a youth ambassador for the Tourette Association of America. He’ll be traveling to schools across the state to educate teachers about Tourette Syndrome.
“I feel lucky that I’m able to do this,” he said.
Wu’s mom, Lisa Finkleman, says he started showing signs of Tourette Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder, at a young age.
“When he was very little I noticed that he had some eye blinking and his pediatrician said don’t worry, a lot of people have that, and it goes away,” she said. “By third grade he had developed several other tics.”
It’s estimated that one out of every 100 kids has Tourette Syndrome or another tic disorder.
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding about Tourette and what it is,” Finkelman said. “I think some people think that it’s tied to intelligence and some other things, which it isn’t. So I think reducing the stigma and increasing awareness about what it is, is really helpful thing.”
Wu traveled to San Antonio with the Tourette Association of America for special training on how to talk to others about Tourette.
“I’m trying to talk to teachers to inform them of how difficult it is, without all the other associated mental conditions, just with Tourette’s,” Wu said. “How difficult it is just to do simple things.”
Wu will also travel to Washington DC in March to meet with senators to raise awareness about Tourette.