“Shedding a Light of Understanding on Kids Who Are Different”

Growing up in an average American household, I never gave much thought to what it was like to be different or out of the norm. My education was homogenous: Catholic grade school, Catholic high school, even a year at a Catholic all-girls college. I married a nice, Catholic boy and raised three wonderful children. Life was what I understood it to be—simple. Oh, I had challenges, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Then my two beautiful, incredible grandchildren were born to my youngest child, and all that changed. The oldest started exhibiting quirky movements that turned into compulsive movements. She also started to have explosive outbursts, especially when things didn’t go her way—everyday things like what color shoes to wear.

It soon became obvious that there were issues. After visits to numerous doctors, Madison was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, and the bottom fell out from under us. We fell into the unknown, and our ordinary life became extraordinary, but not in a good way.

I watched as Madison and her family coped with her physical and vocal tics. I watched as Madison cringed into herself at restaurants after she made a scene, feeling that “everyone was staring at her.” I learned to understand, if only in a small way, what it means to be different.

Which brings me to my novel, DIFFERENT. Izzy, the protagonist, is modeled after my granddaughter. It’s not her story, but it is her life. I’ve watched her cope over the last 15 years, often folding into herself when she felt people were judging her. She’s a beautiful person and a troubled one. She doesn’t like to talk about her TS. She doesn’t want pity. She wants to be accepted as normal.

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Thank you Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for sharing this inspirational guest post!