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Health and Wellbeing

Tourette Syndrome

By Konrad 17 Mar 2023

Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a time to celebrate and embrace the unique perspectives and strengths of all individuals. 

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological condition characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalisations (or a combination of the two) known as tics. These tics can range from mild to severe and may include eye blinking, facial grimacing, throat clearing, coughing, or even shouting out inappropriate words or phrases.

TS is a chronic condition that typically begins in childhood and persists into adulthood. While the exact cause of TS is not known, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 

The misconception

This condition is often misunderstood and stigmatised, but with awareness and education, we can break down the barriers and celebrate everyone for who they are. One of the biggest misconceptions about TS is that it only involves uncontrollable swearing or inappropriate behaviours. In reality, this type of behaviour, known as coprolalia, only affects a small percentage of individuals. The majority of people with TS experience involuntary tics, which are hallmark symptoms of the condition. Many people with TS also experience other challenges, such as ADHD, anxiety, and OCD. These co-occurring conditions can make it difficult to navigate academic and social environments, but with the right support, they can succeed.

TS can present challenges in everyday life, such as difficulty concentrating or socialising. For university students with TS, the condition can have a significant impact on their academic performance and social life. The tics can be distracting and disruptive, making it difficult for students to concentrate during lectures or exams. Students with TS may also experience social isolation or stigma due to their tics, which can affect their mental health and wellbeing.

two hands about to shake

Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help university students with TS manage their symptoms and succeed academically. These may include medication, behavioural therapies, and accommodations such as extra time on exams or the use of assistive technology. Additionally, university student support services may be available to provide assistance and accommodations for students with TS. If you think you may be affected by TS or have already been diagnosed, it's important to seek support from your college's student support services. 

TS does not define a person's identity or potential. Many individuals living with the syndrome have gone on to achieve great things and make significant contributions to their communities. Famous people with Tourette Syndrome include football player Tim Howard, musician Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons), and actor Dash Mihok (Ray Donovan).

We can all play a role in promoting awareness and acceptance of TS during Neurodiversity Celebration Week. By embracing diversity and learning more about TS and other neurodivergent conditions, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.