Documentary features teen with Tourette Syndrome

December 12, 2010 (HIGHLAND PARK, Ill.)

Ariel Small, 16, wants to dispel the stereotype of people with Tourette Syndrome. He created a documentary about his life and accomplishments.

Small is a junior at Highland Park High School. He is an excellent student and athlete and a member of Highland Park's variety football team. Hal Chiodo is his coach.

"Ariel Small is an outstanding player for us. He has started every game, played every down all year. A little bit undersized, he plays a defensive line for us, but he's extremely small, extremely quick and as hard a worker as we have on our team," Chiodo said.

Academically, Ariel excels, says U.S. history teacher Nathan Sweeney.

"He's in AP U.S. Histor, Advanced Placement U.S. History, which is the honors version of U.S. History. So, he's chosen a very challenging course and the place of the class meant to be college-level work," Sweeney said.

"You know, part of the difficulty in AP class is managing the rigor of the reading. He also plays football. So, he's gotta try to balance his athletic with being student in a really challenging curriculum," the teacher said.

Guidance counselor Don Mcord says Ariel is amazing.

"Ariel has you know the face that he has Tourette. I mean you wouldn't know it. The only thing that separates Ariel from any of the other kids is his amazing work ethic. I mean, he is a kid that has a plan," said Mcord.

Challenge is something Ariel thrives on. This past summer he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

"It was really quite an adventure, quite a journey for that," the 16-year-old said.

He also raised awareness of Tourette Syndrome.

"We contacted the Tourette Syndrome Association and they had a sign that we could use and so, once I got to the top, I put it up there," Ariel said.

In addition to school and sports, Ariel is the youth ambassador for Tourette Syndrome Association.

"I've been going to schools, speaking and you know definitely middle schools are my primary schools I've been speaking at because that's really the best age group. But I'm still mentoring kids and speaking at schools and speaking at fundraisers," said Ariel.

With his documentary getting ready to be released, he said, "I'm hoping people will see that you know there really is hope and that you know there's nothing that's really going to stop you from doing what you want to do, and that at any point in life there's going to be obstacles," Ariel said.

The Tourette Syndrome Association recently honored Ariel and his parents for their work.

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