My Tourettes is Not a Joke

By: Summer Hasloecher (@TourettesGirl99)

Tourette Syndrome, also known as Tourettes, is often perceived incorrectly. For many years Tourettes has been looked at as something to joke about and to make fun of; it is completely not that. Tourette Syndrome is a genetic neuro-developmental disorder that causes random uncontrollable sounds or movements called tics. There is a wide range of tics, and they can be simple or complex. Simple tics only involve one set of muscles and can be any of the following:

  • Barking
  • Eye blinking
  • Twitching
  • Whistling
  • Coughing
  • Sniffing
  • Arm and head jerks

Complex tics involve more than one set of muscles and can be any of the following: 

  • Jumping
  • Clapping
  • Throwing
  • Touching
  • Blurting out words or phrases

One of the most common tics associated with Tourette Syndrome is cussing, which is called Coprolalia. Patients with Tourettes can have tics to make them say obscene words or phrases, but it only occurs in less than 10% of people diagnosed. Another similar symptom, Echolalia is also associated with Tourette, and is the repeating of words or phrases said by others. There's also Palilalia, which is the repeating of one's own words.

Tics can change constantly and even disappear. You could develop a new tic that you've never done before but still have the same tic that you've had for years. If you've never had a tic before you may not know what I'm talking about. If you get an itch on your hand you scratch it right? With tics, pressure builds up in a specific area and tells our brain how to move our hand in order for the pressure to go away. 90% of the time, depending on the person, they know when they are going to tic; other people only know about 10% of the time. Every case of Tourettes is unique in its own way and no one's Tourettes is identical to anyone else's.

Tourettes is 3 times more common in males than females, and scientists believe it is due to Tourettes being hereditary. Since Tourettes is a lifelong disorder, many cases are treatable with medication, therapy, or other methods. Tics can also become less noticeable in adulthood. About 1 in every 100 school-aged children in the US is diagnosed with Tourette or a tic disorder. Tics do not normally show up until the ages of 5 7. Although, there have been cases of 14-year-olds having tics for the first time. In order to be diagnosed with Tourettes, you must have 2 or more physical tics, at least one vocal tic and they must have these for at least one year.

People with Tourettes are more likely to have comorbid disorders, such as OCD, ADHD, ADD, anxiety, depression, rage and learning disabilities. Tics can increase when someone with Tourettes is stressed, anxious, excited, tired, or sick, which can also increase symptoms of another disorder they have. 

By reading this article you have helped so many people, just by understanding what we go through on a daily basis. I've lived with this condition diagnosed for 6 years and it's been long and hard. The thing that helped me the most is getting other people to become aware of Tourettes; they still treat me for who I am, and not just as "that Tourettes girl." Tourettes Awareness Month is May 15th to June 15th please if you can, wear teal on Tuesdays for Tourette. Maybe post a picture of you with teal on and #Rally4Tourette in the caption. 

BP Writer3 Comments