Ariel Small grew up in a suburban Chicago with four siblings and loving parents. However, as Ariel grew older his parents noticed something different. His behavior became more and more alarming. Different Is the New Normal tracks trials and triumphs of Small, who has struggled with uncontrollable tics caused by Tourette Syndrome- and others' intolerance and misperceptions about it- throughout his life.
According to the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA), Tourette's (TS) affects an estimated 200,000 people in the United States. It is a neurobiological disorder characterized by involuntary and repetitive physical and vocal tics. Yet, Tourette's remains one of the most publicly misunderstood disorders.
Ariel overcame his differences and became a Youth Ambassador for the TSA to advocate, educate and validate the disorder. As an ambassador, Ariel crossed paths with many people with Tourette's having a productive career and a fulfilling life. Among those profiled is singer James Durbin who was relentlessly bullied due to his tics. In a revealing conversation between Ariel and the American Idol contender, Durbin tells Ariel "Different is the new normal."
The film is a presentation of Creative News Group in association with WNET New York Public Media, the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York's public television stations and operator of NJTV.