It started more than 5 years ago when a patient asked Dr. Katrina Lindsay how he could meet other kids who were like him.
Since then, T.I.C. (Together in the Community) Night Out, a social event for Dr. Lindsay’s patients in her Tics and Tourette Service has grown and the fun has spread from an indoor amusement park to a drive-in movie theater. This year, more than 252 patients and their families had the Akron Zoo to themselves on a perfect fall-like September night. The theme, “Be You at the Zoo,” was fitting with courageous young people sharing their stories. A tear or two was shed by their parents and yes, the evening ending with new friendships formed.
“This is something that was born out of a kid just like you guys. Welcome to your mothership,” said Dr. Lindsay, a pediatric psychologist and the program director, in kicking off the night. “The people around you have gone through the same things as you and have the same superpowers as you. So, reach out and take that opportunity to make friends.”
After emotional speeches by teens and their parents sharing details of struggles, triumphs and journeys to diagnosis and treatment with Dr. Lindsay using Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Tics [CBIT], the families could roam the zoo, and enjoy face painting, train and carousel rides and animal encounters. Event sponsors like Howard Hanna, Ganley Auto Group made the event happen and other companies like Joann Fabrics, Pizza Hut and Wild Republic donated food, supplies and gifts.
In her emotional talk to the group, mom Shelley Shoaff talked about what a relief to finally have an expert diagnose her son, Allen, after years of uncertainty.
“I felt like she [the provider] was giving me the picture on the box of a puzzle that I had all the pieces for, but I didn’t know what the picture was for,” said Shelley. “And it was just a great description of Allen and how awesome he is.”
Daymon Deramus, with Tom and Alison, his aunt and uncle, spoke about the progression of his tics, which began in 3rd grade and grew worse in middle school. He switched to online learning from home, and the worsening tics took a toll on his social life and grades.
Flash ahead to this past Labor Day weekend, when he was able to go to the Canfield Fair with friends, go on rides and have fun.
“My advice to other kids is to never give up,” he said. “It’s so different for each of us and I didn’t think CBIT would work but it’s ended up changing my life for the better.”