about warning people in advance about a person's difference? Is this
the polite and proper route to take - something that Miss Manners would
applaud? Or is it a violation - yet another public exhibition of what,
if all things in life were fair, would be your most private inner self?
Arguments can be made for both sides, and so this is what I will endeavour
to present over the next two installments. My personal preference is
the correct one only in that it is the right answer for ME at this point
and place in my life. Only after having considered both camps will each
of you be in the best possible position to find your OWN right answers,
the first question is whether or not your difference is a latent (hidden)
or manifest (in your face) difference. Perhaps a difference that MAKES
no difference IS no difference, at least as far as social situations
go? But what about those unavoidably noticeable differences? These may
be worth further reflection………..
from the perspective of a friend, family member, partner, teacher, or
work colleague. On the one hand, warning other people in advance of
meeting that person you know with a difference is minimizing to him
or her. People are not defined by their difference, yet these actions
set this tone. I mean, you don't 'warn' people that the friend you are
about to meet is black, or gay, or in a wheelchair. Or do you? And is
it really even your position to DO the warning? This is not your disorder
or issue, and doing the legwork to accommodate another's difference
sets a dangerous precedent. Many a family has fallen hostage to one
member's compulsions or rages, for example, as they continually walk
on eggshells to oblige neurological whims and avoid rocking any boats.
Allowing the person to experience the 'real-world consequences' of either
telling or not enables him or her to make certain choices, act upon
them, and grow in his or her independence.
other hand, when I learned years ago that my parents had not told their
staff (some of whom had worked for my father for years) that I had TS,
this caught me very much off-guard. After so much time I had made the
assumption that it would have come up at some point. Fair or not, my
knee-jerk reaction was to feel that my parents were embarrassed of me
to have gone so far out of their way to not say a thing. My open ticcing
caught some members of my father's staff very much off-guard. Given
those awkward moments, perhaps the true consideration of giving a 'warning'
lies in sparing unsuspecting others from the embarrassment of their
next time, my friends!
B. Duncan McKinlay, Ph.D., C.Psych.
was an interesting situation I ran into with warning people about differences.
My ballet instructor....spoke to the class after some inappropriate
reactions from the class. His whole thing was that I was only being
"who and what I am", and HE WAS MADE UNCOMFORTABLE by their
REACTIONS. I thought it was an interesting twist. One of the points
he brought up that I really remember is that their reactions were more
disruptive than my tics. And this from a man who can barely remember
the name of my disorder."