You may remember about a month ago that you were on a train to Bedford with two children who I presume were your daughters. You took the seats behind me and my support worker, Tanya (not her real name) who clearly had her carer card displayed. Apparently you didn’t notice this.
I was making weird noises. This is because I suffer from Tourette syndrome, in fact I had been travelling home from a meet up with other Tourettes sufferers, or ‘ticcers’ as we are often known. I was feeling good, happy even. I was a bit more ticcy as I always am after a meet up, so I expected a bit more ticcing than usual. What I didn’t expect was for someone, your daughters to be frank, to start copying every noise I made.
I don’t blame your daughters. They were only young after all. I blame you for what happened next. You made no attempt to tell your daughters to stop imitating my every noise and move. You didn’t tell them to stop staring at me through the gap in the chair (yes I can see). You just sat there and let them mock me for approximately half of the journey.
Let me tell you something about Tourettes. When I feel like people are watching me or worse, imitating me, my tics will worsen. That is why the ‘c’ word came out. I didn’t want it to come out. Apparently you didn’t hear it the first time, or chose to ignore it but when your precious girls copied my foul outburst (see I agree it’s foul), that’s when you became aggressive. ‘ALL RIGHT, WHO IS THAT?’ You got up parallel to my seat, probably looking for a large man. I expect you were quite surprised that what you were ‘confronted’ with was a 4’8″ tall girl, convulsing in pain.
Thankfully my staff was with me that day. Tanya said ‘Excuse me, she can’t control it, she has Tourettes’. Your face was red as you turned to me and I held my TS alert card up to you. Another man on the train started to talk to us about TS. Why couldn’t you have asked nicely?
What you didn’t see was that after you got off the train, two stops from my home, I began to cry. I was angry with you, not your daughters. You had a perfect opportunity to teach them about disability and you instead chose to allow them to mock me. Would you have allowed them to make fun of an autistic person’s noises? Or a child with Down syndrome or Cerebral palsy? I cannot answer that, however I would guess not. My noises were no different, no more offensive, yet your ignorance made my worst tic come out in public.
So I hope we never meet again, but I would implore you that if you read this, please teach your children about tolerance for people who are different. Maybe you’ll learn something too.
From a girl who is frightened to travel on public transport.