Josiah Ong is a recipient of the Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities and a business administration undergraduate at National University of Singapore (NUS), who has Tourette’s Syndrome.
Josiah experiences involuntary movements or tics. Growing up with the condition, he was often stared at or mimicked by people around him, and was no stranger to bullying in school. His teachers would sometimes think that he was cheating whenever he twitched while sitting for his tests and examinations.
Having gone through National Service and mainstream education like his peers, Josiah does not declare his condition at the outset of all his conversations as he does not see the need to if he can get by and prove that he is just like anyone else.
Josiah decided to give a talk at his school’s disability support office recently to raise the awareness of Tourette’s Syndrome. Close to 30 people, including staff and students, attended the talk.
“Many people do not know about this condition. It was at times challenging as I am expected to do what everyone else can, without the consideration that certain things may be more challenging to me than to another person who does not have Tourette’s Syndrome,” he said.
“My goal was to raise awareness for this lesser-known condition that I have. It was not to garner sympathy and make others feel sorry for me.”
Of his first attempt at advocacy, he said: “When I presented, I was so encouraged that the audience took it well and some of them even asked me for presentation tips after! I had a lot of fun getting to know the other students with disabilities in NUS.”