Our Neurodiversity Network are a group of colleagues who are championing neurodiversity in the workplace. The group aims to promote the value of neurodiversity and support neurodivergent colleagues and service users to thrive, for the benefit of all.
Since 15 May – 15 June is Tourette’s Awareness Month, the Neurodiversity Network are raising awareness about Tourette’s and dispelling some of the myths that surround it.
What is Tourette’s syndrome?
There are currently over 300,000 people living with Tourette’s syndrome in the UK.
Tourette’s is a neurodivergent condition that can cause people to make sounds and movements that are out of their control. These are called tics. Some people who have Tourette’s may also experience attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Tourette’s usually starts during childhood; symptoms can improve after several years and sometimes go away completely.
Tics come and go, some days a person’s Tourette’s can have a bigger impact than other times. Tics tend to get worse, or more difficult to manage, if a person feels stressed, anxious or tired.
What are tics?
There are lots of different types of tics, both physical and vocal. Here are some examples of tics:
- eye rolling
- shoulder shrugging
- jerking of the head or limbs
- touching objects and other people
- throat clearing
- tongue clicking
- animal sounds
- saying random words and phrases
- repeating a sound, word or phrase
While tics are the main symptom of Tourette’s, this varies from person to person because people experience Tourette’s differently.
What Tourette’s is not
There’s a common misconception that everyone who has Tourette’s swears loudly, but that’s not the case. Involuntary swearing (coprolalia) is a relatively uncommon type of vocal tic that only affects about 1 in 10 people with Tourette’s syndrome.
Tics are not usually harmful to a person’s overall health, but physical tics, such as jerking movements, can be painful and attempting to control your tics can be exhausting.
Tourette’s and mental health
Tics are the main symptom of Tourette’s. However, up to 85% of people who have Tourette’s also experience co-occurring symptoms or conditions, including anxiety and depression.
If you’re feeling low, worried or stressed, we’re here for you. Our free NHS talking therapies can help you find ways to cope.
Here are some helpful resources that provide more information about Tourette’s and the kinds of support available.
NHS Tourette’s Syndrome https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tourettes-syndrome/
Tourette’s Action UK – about Tourette’s https://www.tourettes-action.org.uk/7-about-ts.html
Tourette’s Action UK – Find support https://www.tourettes-action.org.uk/8-find-support.html
Tourette’s Action UK – resource library https://www.tourettes-action.org.uk/64-resources.html