Even If Kids Laugh, Things Can Still Hurt Their Feelings. Just Ask This Teen on Reddit

Usually the class clown, this teen opened up about finally asking his peers to quit laughing at his Tourette’s tics—and the unexpected backlash he received from a teacher.

Boys bullying classmate in the school
Photo: Getty Images

Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome less than six months ago, one teen took to Reddit’s popular "Am I The A**hole" (AITA) subreddit to get a little feedback from the community. The question on his mind: AITA for telling my classmates to stop laughing at my disorder?

"I was in first period algebra and my tics got bad," user u/Ebola-on-toast began. "Being hungry, thirsty, tired, and caffeine can make them bad, I had a combination of all of them, so it was bad today."

Typically the class clown, the teen described himself as the "weird comedian kid" who likes to make classmates laugh. Lately, though, the young man said he had been "feeling more like a freak because of my disorder than a funny guy with a cool quirk." He explained that that day, things just went too far.

"So these kids started laughing at my tics," he wrote. "I was yelling and hitting things and myself. Got a few hits in that are gonna leave a bruise for sure. And I got sick of it. I didn’t want to keep hitting myself. So I spoke up. 'Can you guys shut up? Laughing at me makes it worse. I’m not in the mood to be laughed at today,' I said, and immediately regretted it. I shouldn’t have called attention to it, because then I’d have MORE attention."

Apparently the students went silent and respected his request, but it was at the end of class that left the teen at a loss for words. His teacher pulled him over and "told me that it was 'incredibly rude to tell them to shut up' ... I feel like I’m being over dramatic and I need other peoples opinions."

It seems like we should give the teacher the benefit of the doubt—perhaps we don't know the full story—but hearing this teen's agony over the experience had everyone on the thread stepping up to his defense.

"You're never the a**hole for telling people to stop laughing at you, doubly so when they're doing it because of something you can't control," one user commented. "They're a**holes for laughing at you to begin with, but even more for being dickish about being called out on it. Oh, and your teacher? Major a**hole here and he should have handled the situation better. I doubt you feel like escalating, but you'd be justified in complaining about how he handled it."

Another poster with Tourette Syndrome chimed in as well: "I absolutely HATE how people find it amusing," they wrote. "I know exactly how it feels when your tics are bad, it's not fun. They should be ashamed of themselves. You are NOT being dramatic. You're dealing with something that can be very stressful, and they're being pricks."

This post serves as a reminder that bullying can take many forms—and even the kids who laugh at their own expense can get their feelings hurt. Everyone has a breaking point.

According to StopBullying.gov, 20 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 18 will experience bullying. Another 19 percent of high school students reported being bullied on school property.

The original AITA poster hesitantly told his parents about the experience after receiving so much support on Reddit and said that they planned to report the teacher. But it's important to remember that many kids will not report bullying to an adult—and it's the job of parents and teachers to check in with kids regularly and encourage them to not only be kind to others, but to seek help when they need it.

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