Tell us your inspirational story about how you overcame adversity to achieve a specific goal or dream.

A month before my two AP exams, I was pulled off medication that I was taking for ADHD, due to a misdiagnosis. Not only did I already deal with faulty body control, but I then had to deal with impaired cognitive functions and withdrawal from the medication that caused debilitating body compulsions. This is part of why I have been categorized as "twice exceptional." Being twice exceptional means that I am exceptional in the sense that I have the intellectual abilities for high level courses, while also being exceptional by having one or more disabilities. I have Tourette Syndrome, OCD, and ADHD with a processing disorder. Throughout my education I have been in a combination of honors and academic courses that, combined with my disadvantages in life, were a challenge. Last year I decided to take two AP level courses, along with academic courses. To be successful in these courses I needed a significant amount of preparation drawn mainly from experience.
For instance, I grew up living with my permanently disabled mother. She has 9 fusions throughout her spine and pelvis that leave her in excruciating pain on a daily basis. When I received a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome, after being misdiagnosed for years, my mother taught me to look at the glass half full instead of half empty. She not only taught me to have a positive outlook, but showed me that disabled people can still be extraordinary. Every day my mom woke up to take me to school, make me lunch, and take me to doctors' appointments. She managed to help me in what ever way she could through excruciating pain and without a single complaint.
Additionally, after 16 years and six hours of testing, I was diagnosed with ADHD and low processing skills. With this new diagnosis and testing, I was able to understand how I learn better. With the help of the Rutgers Tourette's Clinic, I learned reading, study, and time management skills. I also learned coping skills for dealing with Tourette Syndrome and OCD.
Through diagnosis and skill assessment, I was able to create accommodations and advocate for my needs to be successful in higher level courses. With this background as well as the learning the necessary information, I was well prepared for my AP exams. I managed to compensate for any complications with exams and my medical disadvantages. In doing so I passed my exams and even managed to obtain college credit.

Thomas from New Jersey
High School Senior
South Plainfield High School

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