Grace Hawruk spoke at Yale University earlier this month about Tourette Syndrome, a condition that affects 1 percent of children in the United States.
Hawruk, a Butler resident, has spoken to students, teachers, doctors, and residents throughout the Garden State about her struggle with the disease. She attends the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (TSAD).
Tourette’s is a neuropsychiatric disorder that is usually diagnosed in children. It is characterized by multiple physical tics and at least one vocal tic per person.
Hawruk, 17, told attendees that she never has allowed the disease to affect her life or prevent her from being who she is.
“So I’m grateful to have TS. Without it, I would not be me,” Hawruk said. “I have a lot of memorable moments because of TS. At past grand rounds, I’ve gotten a standing ovation from the doctors. It was shocking to see how my words moved doctors.”
Hawruk was diagnosed with Tourette’s when she was 8. She is captain of her high school tennis team. She has told her story many times and it’s one she intends to tell. She wants people to know that having Tourette’s isn’t the end of the world and it doesn’t have to hinder one’s growth and maturation.
“Telling my story is rewarded because I get to teach people and know that I’m brining everyone one step closer to tolerance and understanding,” Hawruk said.
A representative from the TSAD did not return a phone call seeking comment.