Meet Mega T
Ethan Herald, Age 14, from Canal Fulton, Ohio
Sidekicks: Dad, Larry, mom, Linda, Aunt Abigail and Dr. Katrina Lindsay.
When he’s not busy overcoming obstacles: Ethan enjoys playing the trombone in his school’s band and is active in his church youth group.
Did you know fact: Ethan was selected as a youth ambassador for the Tourette Association of America. He went to Capitol Hill and spoke to representatives about Tourette syndrome and tic disorders.
Why Ethan is a #ACHero: Growing up, Ethan and his family knew some words were harder for him to get out than others. It wasn’t until he was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome in middle school that Ethan learned new ways to say what he wanted to say, gaining confidence at school and among his peers in the process.
Ethan’s Story: For years, Ethan struggled with paying attention in class. He found it difficult to stay focused, regardless of the topic. Teachers tried to help him stay on task, but nothing seemed to work. Eventually, Ethan was put on ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) medication to help with symptoms, but it still didn’t seem to help.
Hoping more could be done, Ethan’s parents brought him to Akron Children’s NeuroDevelopmental Science Center for evaluation.
“I knew Ethan stuttered and had a hard time getting out certain words, but I just thought that was part of who he was … I didn’t think it was that noticeable,” said mom, Linda Herald. “When Dr. Lindsay diagnosed him with Tourette syndrome, I was shocked. I didn’t believe it at first.”
Tics are a neurological disorder that causes people to make sudden, involuntary movements and sounds. Tourette syndrome is a type of tic disorder involving multiple tics.
Dr. Katrina Lindsay, a pediatric psychologist and nationally certified school psychologist at Akron Children’s, noticed that when Ethan got nervous or excited, his tic came out. He would trip over words, start over and repeat himself several times.
To help with Ethan’s vocal stutters or self-described “echo tic,” Dr. Lindsay recommended he participate in a new program, Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention (CBI), she developed for kids and teens with Tourette syndrome and tic disorders.
For 7 weeks, Ethan attended weekly, 1-hour sessions to learn what was triggering his vocal tic, ways to recognize the tic before it came out and techniques, like breathing exercises and using note cards, to stay focused and lessen the severity of the tic.
Ethan made tremendous progress during his sessions and became the first graduate of the CBI program.
“Ethan really likes working with Dr. Lindsay, which I think helped his progress,” said Linda. “She was the one who pushed for Ethan to apply to be an ambassador for the Tourette Association of America. I don’t think he would have done it if it weren’t for her encouragement.”
It took courage, but Ethan completed the application process to become an ambassador, which required 13 written essays about a number of topics. For a boy who once found writing an extremely stressful exercise, Ethan applied his tic avoidance techniques to help him complete the essays, even describing himself as “an excellent public speaker because I am a go-getter and a strong and independent thinker.”
In March, Ethan became an ambassador for the Tourette Association of America and was invited to attend a 2-day training seminar in Arlington, Va. Here, Ethan and his parents attended information sessions and met other kids with his condition. The trip concluded with a visit to Capitol Hill where Ethan got to speak with elected officials about Tourette syndrome and tic disorders.
“During the training sessions in Virginia, someone described having a tic as similar to having to sneeze,” said Linda. “You can’t make a tic go away until you get it out. You can’t help it…It really helped me understand what having a tic must feel like for Ethan.”
Today, Ethan is done with his CBI sessions, but it didn’t stop Dr. Lindsay from asking Ethan to stop in to talk with her again.
“She wanted to know all about his visit, every detail,” said mom. “I think Ethan likes that she shows an interest in what he has to say… He feels like the things he’s learned from Dr. Lindsay have really helped him and that’s what’s important.”