I need to turn around four times

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
Rachael Sidebottom, 14, first had Tourette syndrome symptoms when she was 2. At 9, she was diagnosed with the condition and obsessive compulsive disorder. She is in Year 10 at Rushden community college in Northamptonshire.

"I used to open my mouth, like clicking my jaw, and clear my throat. I used to click my heels and rub my nose. Now I turn around. It's always there, but if I am excited or sad or anxious about something like a test it will get worse. In lessons, I have a time-out card so I can go out if I need to turn around. Then people don't look at me and I don't fall over tables and chairs.

If teachers shout in my class, they have to use people's names, and if they shout at me they have to use my name, so I don't get worried if they are shouting at someone else.

Because of my OCD I have to do things in fours. Sometimes I turn round in fours. If I'm washing my hands, if I burn myself with hot water on one hand, I might have to burn myself on the other hand, too.

In Year 8, my form tutor told my form group that if they had questions about me they could ask her. I've never been teased, but people always ask my mum if I swear. Some people have said it's not fair I'm allowed to wear trainers at school because my knees and ankles ache from turning round.

I have a mentor to go to if I need to relax. If the teacher is nice and doesn't say things like 'What are you doing that for?' then you feel more comfortable.

I'm so tired after school I sometimes have to go to bed and sleep for three hours."

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