THERE'S WEIRDO! (Christian Testimony).
Published by VOICE Magazine (Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International in September of 1987.
Christian Testimony & Autobiography by William E. Baxter.
Following my birth on October 11th, 1954, doctors did not give my parents very good news. I had suffered a birth defect in my central nervous system, and predictions of what my life would be like included hyperactivity, mental retardation, and the possibility of being an epileptic. This wasn't a very optimistic outlook, but God had His plans. As it turned out, I wasn't retarded, and never had any seizures, but I did suffer from hyperactivity, which created social and emotional problems later in life. A person who suffers from hyperactivity feels the need for abnormal quantities of motor behavior. Hopefully, he can learn to channel this nervous energy into activities such as play, baseball, basketball, hide-and-go-seek, etc., but it doesn't always work.
My body would often display abnormal forms of motor such as "gyrations." This is when a hyperactive child jumps up and down and waves his hands all over. Bobbing back and forth sitting , or swaying back and forth standing up, are also forms of abnormal behavior associated with hyperactivity. Other kids would look and wonder what the matter with me was. This often brought cruel imitations and laughter at my expense. At night I would bang my head on the pillow before I went to sleep. While other people counted sheep, I'd bang my head. Other expressions of hyperactivity include talking to one self. Hyperactive people feel the need to engage in conversation, so when there's nobody around they talk to themselves. My early childhood was also plagued by a learning disability. It was very hard for me to stay put in my seat and pay attention in class and do my work. So I didn't quite get through the first grade. I was put in what they call junior second, which is half way between first and second grade. To complicate things further, junior second was taught by a woman who was to old to be teaching small children. She acted mean towards the class, which proved to be to much for me, so my parents pulled out of school.
For the remainder of the year I had a teacher come to my house. Aside from that, I watched cartoons. That was one of the best ways to keep me out of mischeif until I could return to school the next year. When I returned, I was place in a class with the educationally handicapped (EMR). My teacher in EMR was Mr. Crum. I had him for second and third grade (I was already 10 years old in the third grade). Mr. Crum did a lot for me in the two years I was with him. When I started the fourth grade I was back in regular classes and out of EMR. From there my learning capabilities improved with work. But I tell you it was a long way from EMR to being an honor student in my freshman and sophomore years of college! Praise the Lord!
However, other problems crept in--emotional problems. I felt (and still do at times) the need to get attention for myself. Back then I felt crying was a good way. But I learned that when I did it, it did not get me the kind of attention I wanted. The need for attention, in combination with having to take a lot of prescribed "downers" to curb my hyperactivity, then produced a lot of emotional problems which reached a peak in the middle of the sixth grade. After losing the respect of classmates who could not understand this problem, I worked hard to curb it.
Prior to starting junior high my emotions were completely under control--at least most of the time. But junior high began the worse phase of my life. Adolescence as you probably know, begins the so-called age where boys and girls are separated from the "nerds">. A lot of my adolescent classmates had no idea that those emotional problems existed, but I still had the problem of my birth defect. Teenagers can react cruelly to something like this, so I was the target of a lot of verbal abuse by my classmates at Trident Jr. High. They would try and egg me on to do things that would make me make a fool of myself and get me in trouble.
Soon my self esteem crumbled and I felt that the only way I could get people to respect me was to give in and make an idiot of myself. One time I did something stupid just so others could have some amusement I was in the junior high marching band and a couple of the band members tried to egg me on to do a marching demonstration for the whole campus. Well, I felt hopeless as usual, and began marching. Some spectators laughed, one yelled out, "Hey kid, are you retarded?" My reply was, "No, they are." Then a third guy looked at me with pity and said, "What in the devil are you doing that for?" To this day I respect him for asking me that question, but I felt so helpless and drained of self esteem, I just couldn't give him an answer. As the kids continued to verbally abuse me by calling me names like "Retard" or "Weirdo" and get amusement at my expense, my self confidence and my social life almost crumbled completely.
I lived in Anaheim for 15 years when my dad got a promotion and we relocated to Sacramento. During my last day at Trident, a fellow saxophonist in the band said "We're going to miss you Billy," in a mocking tone, which really meant "Your leaving is the best thing that could happen to us." I had set a record for the 50 yard dash in the 8th grade, 6.3 seconds. I was one of the fastest runners in the 8th grade. That did get me some respect from the kids. If it wasn't for that, I would have really been in the soup socially, even more than I already was.
When the family moved to Fair Oaks, which is a suburb of Sacramento, I finished up junior high at Will Rogers Intermediate School. Before long things were right back where I finished of at Trident, only worse. I was maliciously lead on by members of the opposite sex. But in addition to that came physical abuse as well, particularly from some bullies. This carried over into my freshman year in high school. Things more or less remained the same until I met one person who accepted me just the way I was, handicap or no handicap; problems or no problems. That was Jesus Christ. After I accepted him, things began to change.
I was in a high school group at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church. Jesus accepts people no matter what they look like, no matter their handicap, He accepts everybody the same. When I accepted him, I was a new person, and a new being. And because the personality of Christ exists in all those who accept Him as Lord and Savior, I was loved and accepted by people in that high school group. Christ was changing my life.
I hadn't, however, accepted the fact that I was being changed totally. I felt the change was only restricted to the confines of that fellowship group. In later years, the Lord sought to make me aware that He was able to change my life no matter what the circumstances. It took high school popularity to make me realize that my life was totally changed no matter what the circumstances. During the summer of 1971 my dad got another job offer to work for the "feds" in Washington DC. My Junior Year brought me to Thomas S. Wootton High School. I worked hard and took pride in being manager of the wrestling team. Mr. Loudenberg, the football coach, took a liking to me and asked me to be track manager, and later, manager for football. At the Spring Sports Banquet at school, it was announced by Coach Loudenberg that I was going to be the first three letter manager in the history of the school after football season. The coaching staff gained a huge amount of respect for me. When the so called "jock clique" saw that, they grew to like me very much. Then the cheerleaders and pom pom girls followed suit. In November of 1973, I was the first three letter manager. Prior to that, I acquired high school popularity. I was a senior by then, and my family had to move back to Southern California in the middle of my senior year.
When I moved to Southern California to finish my senior year at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, I received a multitude of letters from atheletes, cheerleaders, pom pom girls letting me know how much I was missed at Thomas S. Wootton. It was arranged then that I could return to Thamas S. Wootton and go through the graduation ceremony there. That became my alma mater. I was announced along with the Valedictorian and the Top Ten in the class, as being the Most Improved Student in the Class of 1974.
All this time the Lord was working in me to acknowledge that he was changing my life, I was a backslider and was turning my back on Him. But even though we sometimes turn our backs on Him, God never gives up on us. Hebrews 13:5 says, "I will never leave you or forsake you." The Lord stuck with me.
My parents and I had been told by advisors in High School that I could never make it in college. But Philippians 4:13 says "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me." I not only went to college, I received good marks, graduating in August of 1979.
In the Fall of 1974, I rededicated my life to Christ, and have been growing in His Word and His Spirit ever since. I have become increasingly more well liked wherever I go. Jesus has made a strong difference in my life, and He can do the same for anyone who is suffering from ill treatment because their only crime is being slightly different, or there is a handicap. There are many teens out there who are hurting and suffering the same way I did because of something they have no control over.
But the Lord can change their lives the same way he changed mine. We need to lift these people up in prayer continually and let them know what Jesus can do.
AUTHORS NOTES: This article was published in September of 1987, 8 years before I was officially diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. I did not; earn that I had Tourette Syndrome until the Summer of 1995. The gyrations mentioned in this article are actually called Motor and Vocal Tics. Also, TS was only one of the problems, as I was a forceps baby who got stuck during child birth, resulting in damage to the central nervous system. Therefore, I have been developmentally disabled my entire life; but, I have constantly strived to rise above my disability, and not let it defeat me in life. When this article was published many years ago, The Publishers and Editors of VOICE Magazine said I can have this article re-published later on if I want, which is why I am able to post in on my website.