Let’s Talk Tourettes

I’m not gonna lie, until about a year, I had known very little about tourettes. I thought that everyone who had it just swore at random, and would lash out during an “episode”. I didn't realize just how much I didn’t know.

Around the end of Junior year I started going to Emmanuel Chronic Pain and Illness Support Group. I met so many wonderful people, but one of the students there who stood out to me, was my friend Katrina. She was wearing Tourette’s socks and was a chatterbox. During that first meeting I kind of flinched, which made her think I had tourette’s, sadly I had to inform her I did not. After spending a few hours with her, with other members of the club, I noticed that she hadn’t sworn once.

Before long we were hanging out on the regular and she was very open about educating me about what Tourette’s really is. There are so many different misconceptions, and to this day I am always learning new things. Here are some common misconceptions about people with Tourette’s:


1. Everyone Swears


Image courtesy of The Buddy Project

Like I mentioned above, I imagined everyone with Tourette’s swearing 24/7, in all reality only about 10% of people with Tourette’s have this trait. Katrina is one of those “lucky” one’s as she says, but even she doesn’t swear constantly.

2.  Everyone with Tics Has Tourette’s


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In fact, as many as 20% of school aged children have tics, but only about 0.6% of those people have Tourette’s. Most of these children will grow out of their tics, but there are plenty of adults with tics, without Tourette’s. For children/adults, with Tourette’s, tics are constantly changing. Being around other people with Tourette’s will sometimes change these tics, or create new ones.

3. Tourette’s is only tics


Image courtesy of tourettes.org

After attending one of Katrina’s presentations on Tourette’s, this was the image that stuck with me. Although as an outsider looking at someone with Tourette’s we might only see the tics, but usually there is so much more going on under the surface. Some of the other symptoms might include: ADD/ADHD, sleep issues, anxiety, OCD, depression, sensory issues, etc. Not everyone has all these, but usually they have an assortment of a few.

4. There's nowhere for people with Tourette’s to feel safe


Image courtesy of camptwitchandshout.org

Katrina has been going to Camp Twitch and Shout since she was first diagnosed, and now she is a counselor there every summer. It’s a week long camp in Georgia, for children/teens with Tourette’s. It is a place where they can let all of their tics out, without fear of judgement. They can become best friends with people who are going through a similar experience. Although I only know Katrina who has gone, she speaks so highly of it, that I can only imagine how others must feel.

5. Don’t Ask Questions


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Although I wouldn’t reccomend going up to a stranger on the street you see ticking and asking questions, if you have someone in your life who you can ask your questions about Tourette’s to, do it! Katrina is amazing when I ask her questions. I have learned so much, and when I hear others talking about misconceptions with Tourette’s I can helpfully educate them. Never stop learning, and never judge a book by a tic on the cover.