Monday, May 16, 2011

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month

May 15 through June 15 is officially designated as Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month.  This is a month made to help bring awareness to others about an obstacle so many people around the world live with on a daily basis.  They are challenged with tics, many of which can make life hard to live with.  They face a life full of challenges that are both physical and emotional.  Their brains take control of their bodies, and they have little control over the actions their bodies are taking at the hands of their overly active brains.  Each day, those with Tourette Syndrome battle with their brains, fighting to take control over the desire to blink excessively, shake their heads, repeat words, and so much more.

The most common thing I've heard as a parent of a child with Tourette Syndrome is one simple question.  "He's not going to start cussing is he?"  (BTW- the proper term for the use of obscenities and slurs is coprolalia).  It sounds innocent enough, but it really shows just how misunderstood Tourette Syndrome is.  I recently encountered someone who suggested that Tourette Syndrome had a spiritual link because "it almost always is accompanied by swearing".  It made me realize just how wrong people often are in how they view this condition.  According to the Tourette Syndrome Association website, "cursing, uttering obscenities, and ethnic slurs are manifested by fewer than 15% of people with TS."  Somehow 15% doesn't sound like "almost always" to me.  And the truth is, the majority of those I've talked to that either have TS or have family members with TS are Christians with a strong sense of faith and a very good connection to God.  Tourette Syndrome affects people of all religions, just as it affects people of all races, genders, and even income levels.  Tourette Syndrome doesn't discriminate.  It doesn't select those who are less spiritual than others.

As I've mentioned, those with Tourette Syndrome are faced with a number of challenges.  Tourette Syndrome often coexists with disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), insomnia, bipolar, depression, or any number of other behavioral, learning, or sleeping disorders.  As if these challenges are not enough, many people who live with Tourette Syndrome are faced with the reactions of those who do not understand the condition.  There are the countless stares, the snide remarks, and the bullies.  Sometimes, there are even those who deal with family members who, for lack of understanding or out of embarrassment, make nasty comments or even go to the point of emotional abuse rather than giving support, comfort, and love.  The home and the family should be a comfort zone for those with TS, but sadly this isn't always the case.

While there are those with Tourette Syndrome who would rather hide their condition from those around them, there are many more who long for acceptance and understanding.  Please take the time, during Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month and the rest of the year, to find out more about TS and the lives of those living with it.  Should you have any questions about Tourette Syndrome, please check out the links along the side of this blog or feel free to ask me any questions that I might be able to help you with. 

1 comment:

  1. My son has Tourettes Sydrome,along with OCD and Sensory Integration Disorder. People don't understand how hard,and difficult it can make in a person's life. My son is 12. It not only makes it hard for him,but me as well,especially with me being his mom,and wanting to do what's best for him..and even getting very upset and angry when others bully him. It's not something you can just TURN off. He has verbal,non verbal,and motion ticks. He is a very sweet and loving boy. The thing ppl really need to learn just can't turn it off!...I loved this article. Thank you so much.