I was driving down the road the other day, when my five-year-old suddenly informed me that Monster Man is "weird". He then went on to tell me that Monster Man does "strange things" and proceeded to explain about many of Monster Man's tics and how Monster Man tends to move his eyes in certain ways when he is talking. I realized then that I'd never really explained to my Little Man about why Monster Man does certain things or about what Tourette Syndrome is.
I tried my best to tell him that Monster Man can't help that he does those things, and that he isn't trying to be strange but that he does them because he has Tourette Syndrome. Of course, being an inquisitive five-year-old, he had questions like "what is Tourette Syndrome?" and "why does he have Tourette Syndrome?". That was when I came to realize that I didn't really know how to explain Tourette Syndrome in a way that a five-year-old could understand. I tried my best, but I don't think that Little Man actually got what I was saying.
Little Man seems to have dropped the subject for now, though I'm sure it won't be long before it comes up again. Thankfully, I had some suggestions from the other members of the National Tourette Syndrome Association Facebook page that I have written down for the next time we have this discussion. One of my favorites involves explaining about the workers in your brain, and that those with TS have extra workers that get tired of waiting their turn to work and they make the body do things the brain doesn't want it to do. I've also found that there are several books available that can help explain it to children.
The next time the questions come up, I now know how to answer them.