Tourette Syndrome: Facts & Reflections From a 10-Year-Old With the Disorder by Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
Tourette syndrome (TS) is an incurable neurodevelopmental disorder that becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence. It is characterized by repetitive movements or unwanted sounds that cannot be easily controlled. According to the Tourette Association of America:
- It is part of the spectrum of tic disorders and is characterized by motor and vocal tics.
- Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders are not rare. The current estimates are that one out of every 160 children between the ages of 5 and 17 in the United States has TS and that one out of every 100 children has TS or another tic disorder.
- Some tic disorders may be transient, while others will persist into adolescence and adulthood.
- It is common for people with Tourette syndrome to be affected by another co-occurring condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
- There is no cure for Tourette syndrome, but there are various treatment options.
My 10-year-old friend, Andrew, recently shared with me something he wrote to his peers about Tourette syndrome:
“You guys know me because I snort. Well you don’t know the pain, the pain of Tourettes. Some people make fun of me for it or are just plain rude – like telling me to stop. I bet you think it’s not that bad. Well guess what? It’s very mean because I can’t stop! You keep being mean and you keep making fun of me. Why do you not stop? Why, why, why? The worst someone’s probably done to me is make a song called 'The Andrew,' which involves jumping around in circles and snorting. What I’m trying to say is I have Tourettes and I can’t help it. I can’t change it. I want you to stop being mean and making fun of me.”
I hope that spreading awareness about Tourette syndrome, teaching our kids about it and sharing Andrew’s story will help to make things a little easier on kids like him. Be kind. Kindness matters.
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