To get an interview with somebody for my eminent person (Gilles de la Tourette), I contacted three different places. To find these places, I simply looked up non-profit tourettes organizations online, and sent messages out to the ones that offered an e-mail address. I then typed up a one paragraph e-mail that I used in all my messages with slight modifications to make sure that I was always coming across as polite and professional, which was this:
The first place I contacted was the Tourettes Foundation of Canada, and it took them a while to respond. While I was waiting for a response, I also contacted the Vancouver chapter of the Tourettes Foundation and the Kelty Mental Health Centre. The vancouver chapter and Kelty were rather fruitless, Kelty recommended me to the vancouver chapter and the vancouver chapter recommended I come to one of their support group meetings. Soon after getting these replies though, I got a message back from a worker named Ashley at the Tourettes Foundation of Canada, who gave me a phone number and times that I could call her as well as the hours in which she was free.
After receiving this message, I got to work formulating my questions for the interview. My thought process went like this:
- Social Impacts
- Common misconceptions
- Contributing factors
- Effects of tourettes on lifestyle
- Does tourettes get enough attention?
- Are there ways being developed to assist people with tourettes?
- Should people with tourettes be classified as ‘handicapped’ or in need of extra care?
- The Man
- Do you know anything about Gilles?
- What impact do you think he had on tourettes, would somebody have stepped in instead of him and researched it?
- What do you know about Gilles de la Tourette? Do you think he is a name commonly known in modern neurology or a forgotten person?
- If Gilles hadn’t researched tourettes syndrome, do you think somebody would have stepped into his place?
- What impacts do you think Gilles research will have down the road? 50 years? 100 years?
- Do you think there are common misconceptions in society about tourettes? What do you think has caused them?
- What do you believe are the effects of tourettes syndrome on a person’s lifestyle?
- Do you think having tourettes can be a handicap to some and cause them to be less able than others?
- In what ways is tourettes currently being researched? Do you think it is getting the attention it deserves?
After creating these questions, I made a bit of a pre-prepared script so that I wouldn’t stumble on the phone and to help me maintain a professional appearance. The script read:
“Hi, my name is Aidan MacDonald, I sent you an e-mail earlier this week about a school research project on Gilles de la Tourette. Would now be a good time to talk, or should I call back another time?
Although I’m learning a lot about tourettes syndrome in this “Eminent Person” project, the main focus is on Gilles de la Tourette—specifically what importance he had or how he has made a contribution to the world. Do you know anything about him?”
A slightly modified version of this script was used in the actual phone call so that I wouldn’t sound so robotic. After introducing myself, we went through the questions. I found it rather difficult to type proper notes while I was holding the phone, but I modified them after the conversation to make them more readable.
- Common mistake is that people think Gilles de la Tourette had Tourettes, but he didn’t. it was named for him because he was first to identify it. He then Published an article called Malady des tiques. He is remembered because of name of the syndrome, not much else.
- Probably wasn’t only person. There would have been others around that could take his place.
- The impact that Gilles de la Tourette made was in identifying the condition and making it known, he started discussion about Tourette syndrome when nobody knew about it. Probably to this day people still read about him when learning about the condition.
- There’s the misconception that It’s controllable. Tics making noise/move can be complex so they look voluntary behaviour but people can’t tell. Things like swearing gets too much attention.
- Tourettes syndrome can be isolating. People can feel misunderstood. May feel there’s something wrong with them. People with Tourettes syndrome have been found to have faster reflexes and can be more compassionate with others who have disabilities or unfortunate events like tripping. Still depends on person and symptoms.
- Depends, doesn’t have to be but people may need accommodation. Example in a school setting somebody with Tourettes syndrome may need to write things on a computer instead of writing it by hand.
- Lot of research into treatments. Research into genetics of tourettes. Scientists trying to find out what causes it. It is one of the most misunderstood conditions,it needs more attention to what is instead of the negative aspects of it.
These answers were followed by a quick thank you and a goodbye, and my interview was complete. Following up on this, I sent her a thank you e-mail later in the day which read:
I found this interview to be quite easy after introducing myself, but absolutely terrifying when leading up to the call. I have no issue at all with public speaking, but phone conversations are a different story. Talking 1 on 1 with a total stranger that you can’t actually see is something I find to be very stress inducing, especially if I need to put any effort into sounding professional.
I think that in the end I received some valuable information, mostly on the society side of tourettes syndrome. I learned things like the impact of tourettes on people lives, and how it is currently being researched in modern society. Because Ashley works with many people who have tourettes syndrome instead of just one, she gets different perspectives on it which she could then give to me, therefore I got a society angle on the subject. I, on the other hand, am just one person with the opinions on tourettes of only one person, therefore I cannot know all the information that she could. Most of the information that she gave me was very new, and didn’t relate to what I had already found, since my research was more on the factual side and not a society point of view. However, the information she gave me on Gilles de la Tourette matched what I already had. After this, I don’t think I need to know any more information, as I have already done extensive research. I can now proceed into writing my speech right away. The information that she gave me will not be used in my speech very much, but it will be a large part to my learning center since one of my goals from before was to make people more aware of tourettes syndrome, and how it’s not necessarily a negative thing. Her answers were very valuable to my project, and I think that I contacted exactly the right person.