Indulgent Commentary: Tourette Syndrome

Posted: May 30, 2010 in Learning Disabilties, Tourette Syndrome
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Tourette Syndrome (TS) also known as Gilles de la Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder which arises in early childhood or adolescence before the age of 18 years.  It consists of involuntary movements and vocalizations.  Movements can be as simple as eye blinking or more complex movements that can involve the whole body.  Vocalization tics can be as simple as clearing the throat or in more extreme cases involve barking or swearing.  The tics involving swearing is called coprolalia.  Unfortunately this type of  Tourette Syndrome is continuously used as a representation of the disorder, because it is so unusual and the media and entertainment industry love sensationalism.

Here are some facts about Tourette Syndrome:
 
 – TS often goes undiagnosed. No exact figure can be given. But It is estimated that 200,000 people in the United States are known to have the disorder.
 
– No definite cause has yet been established for TS, but evidence points to abnormal metabolism of at least one brain chemical called dopamine.
 

– Children with TS have the same IQ range as the general population.  But it is common for TS to be accompanied with learning disabilities, attention issues and obsessive compulsions.

– Fewer than 15% of people with TS have the corporalialia type which are the tics consisting of swearing and uttering obscenities

 You may ask why do I care so much about Tourette Syndrome.  My son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome about three years ago.  There is not one day that we are not affected in some way by this disorder.  He has not had a day where he did not have tics.  Psychologically it has had a great impact on him, and he also has some of the companion conditions such as attention issues and some compulsions.  There is not a day that he is faced with the concern that he will be teased for having the tics.  He doesn’t want to be different, but he has no choice.  We are continuously dealing with people who do not understand the disorder. Some of these people are well-educated and unfortunately work within the education system.  For my son, 3rd grade, 4th grade and 5th grade were a torture.

 So yes, I am passionate about Tourette Syndrome.  I am constantly scanning health news stories on the web, hoping to find some information about new research or more importantly a cure. 

 So, I ask each and every one of you to take action when you see the media sensationalize Tourette Syndrome.  All it takes is a couple of sentences to express a desire to stop the misrepresentation of this disorder. Stand with me and support the 200,000 people who are impacted by TS.  They need your support.  They need your empathy.  They need you to be aware.  Let’s start by calling it by its proper name:  Tourette Syndrome.  It is not Tourettes Syndrome.

Most recently I have been seeing a headline:  The Schultz Apology and Liberal Tourette’s Syndrome where tourette syndrome is used a derogatory adjective defined in the article as:  “A philosophical tic exemplified by an uncontrollable urge to blurt obscenities and socially unacceptable, decidedly inappropriate remarks. A trait that popped up somewhere along the line in the late 1960s and, in one form or another, has been costing liberals everything from votes to ratings to newspaper sales ever since?”

People with Tourette Syndrome enough and don’t need the media sensationalizing it and using it name as a derogatory reference.  I encourage all of you to read the article and leave your feedback about the usage of the terms Tourette Syndrome as a derogative adjective.

To learn more about Tourette Syndrome, here are some links describing the author’s personal experience with Tourette Syndrome  http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2010/10/19/mysteries_of_tourettes/index.html 

http://shenandoahbreakdown.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/a-life-of-uncontrollable-urges-or-tourettes-and-the-writing-life/#comments

My goal is to start a ripple and hopefully that ripple will turn into a wave.    

 

 
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