Tourette Syndrome

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Walking in my Shoes

Talking about mental health is a challenging topic. Asking for help is a hard thing to do, and many people struggle with it. I was fortunate to have a great support group at a young age- My family, teachers, and the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada (where I met many amazing people I still talk to these days). My family was and remained my biggest support group. It was specifically my Dad who got involved with the Tourette Syndrome Foundation right away, not to say my Mom wasn’t a huge factor; she was, in many ways.

I was diagnosed with four disorders pretty much at the same time at age seven — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Tourette Syndrome (TS). Speaking of OCD, notice how I alphabetically listed my disorders????. It is a chore (to say the least) carrying all these disorders with me.

At the age of seven, I was taught how to advocate for myself and seek help when needed. My parents and teachers taught me this. It saddens me to see how many people don’t have the support to help them. I love helping people, and I want to educate people about my story and about mental health and how it can impact someone’s life.

For those who don’t know what Tourette Syndrome is — A neurological disorder characterized by involuntary tics. For example, one of my tics is making facial movements, and if someone tells me to stop, unfortunately, I can’t. Having tics is similar to sneezing, coughing, and breathing — You don’t tell someone to stop any of these as this is part of life. I have good and bad tic days. Tourette Syndrome is a misunderstood disorder — 1 in 100 Canadians are diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.

My other disorders came as a package with my TS (yes, I got free shipping), and they impact my life (sometimes even more than my TS). My anxiety and OCD is something I struggle with. For example, I always apologize, and I always ask if people are mad at me — This is part of my OCD and anxiety — I do see how it can come across as annoying to some people, but imagine how I feel? I don’t want to bother or annoy anyone. My ADHD has increasingly been a struggle — I am impulsive, and I have a hard time NOT interrupting — But, I am trying to deal with this by realizing what I am doing (as you can imagine, it is tough to do).

People in this world think mental health is not real and who thinks it is something you can “snap out of.” Trust me; it isn’t — I don’t want to be impulsive, but people with ADHD (like me) only notice it after someone has pointed out or after I have had time to think about the situation.

My brain is full of random thoughts, sometimes no thoughts, and I always have this knot in my stomach (like butterflies) that has stayed with me for as long as I can remember. I don’t know how to relax, and I have a hard time falling asleep because of what is going on in my mind. I would never want anybody to go through what I go through — It is not fun, but I try to manage with coping mechanisms I have acquired over the years. I am resilient.

Since I am new to “The Mighty” I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to tell the world about my story and my life with mental health. I wouldn’t be here today without the love and support from my family and friends. Helping someone can bring a great sense of feeling, and I hope my story can help those struggling. I hope to write more about my life, and I hope people know that you can count on me for help.

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Why We Need To Include Neurodiversity In The Diversity Conversation

I was recently at a workshop about the importance of diversity in the workplace. While I value and appreciate how far we’ve come in many areas of diversity, and the conversation on the work that’s still needed, there was a glaring absence in this discussion – neurodiversity. When I brought it up, a panelist admitted she hadn’t thought about this important group of current and potential employees. I’m sure she wasn’t the only one.

This is why we need to include neurodiversity in the diversity conversation. Approximately 15 to 20% of the world’s population exhibits some form of neurodivergence. This includes individuals with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, mental health conditions, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Tourette syndrome and more.

Untapped skills
As a mom and sister of two autistic individuals, I know they could bring to a potential employer – as well as the intense barriers they face.

My brother is in his mid-40s and has never had a paying job. He’s bright, friendly, detail oriented, loves repetition, rules and processes. He would get joy out of filling shelves, greeting customers at a large store, or packaging orders in warehouse.

Yet he remains unemployed as he doesn’t present well in an interview (avoids eye contact, tends to focus on his interests and asks way more questions than he answers). A traditional interview would in no way bring out his best. But give him a job with clear instructions and a solid routine, and he’ll show up excited every day.

The stats prove autistic adults are an untapped labour force. A 2017 study by the Public Health Agency of Canada found that only 33% of autistic adults are employed vs 79% of adults without a disability.

Diversity = safe spaces
Now what about the individuals with anxiety, ADHD, mental health conditions or dyslexia where their neurodiversity is less apparent? Due to biases, many do not disclosure their diversity in the interview process or even when they’ve been working at a job for a number of years.

When was the last time you heard of neurodiversity in the diversity training given by human resources? We have gender neutral and wheelchair accessible bathrooms, celebrate Pride Day, embrace a variety of cultures and religions, yet leave neurodiversity out of the diversity conversation.

So, how do we change this?

It starts by looking at how workplaces first started conversations about LGBTQ2+, race, religion, gender, ethnicity and other diversities. This can include biases training, rethinking the interview process and learning from organizations who’ve already walked this path. It means hiring neurodiverse employees and giving them the supports and accommodations needed to be successful vs token hires.

It’s about including neurodiversity in the diversity conversation at elementary, high school and post-secondary education institutions – at both the student and staff levels. It involves having honest conversations about how diverse your organization truly is and what needs to be done to ensure there’s a safe and supportive space for everyone.

Finally, it’s about erasing the stigma and realizing a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t just politically correct, but will actually strengthen the organization and create positive outcomes.

New path forward I spend a lot of time talking about the gifts my brother, son and other amazing individuals bring to table. I’ve also seen movement to fully embrace these gifts hit artificial roadblocks in the education system and in workplaces.

Here’s my hope. I want everyone to be valued and their unique strengths and gifts recognized. I want neurodiversity to have the same space, recognition and importance in the diversity conversation as we given to other marginalized groups.

I don’t want to attend a workshop on diversity and have people say they hadn’t thought about neurodiversity. Rather, I want them to share the incredible work being done by individuals who are autistic, have ADHD, dyslexia or mental health conditions. I want them to recognize and celebrate how a diverse workplace benefits everyone and improves the bottom line.

And most importantly, I want my son to be one of the 79% of Canadians who are employed, vs being held back due to old biases, false assumptions and outdated beliefs.

It’s time to include neurodiversity in the diversity conversation. Without this shift, the diversity conversation runs the risk of being a token conversation.

It's Time to Embrace the Gifts Diverse Learners Bring to the Classroom — Learn Patient Advocacy

It’s time to celebrate the gifts diverse learners bring instead of focusing on the challenges.
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Mental Tics as someone with a Tic disorder

Random nonsense words will enter my mind. Or phrases that repeat themselves over and over for a few minutes.

I know this isn’t my OCD, because #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder involves intrusive thoughts that are disturbing and anxiety invoking, followed by physical or mental compulsions of some kind.

With mental tics that are a part of having a tic disorder, the words that run through one’s head are often random or a repetition of something you’ve heard someone else say. This has been my experience anyways.

The mental tics are never disturbing or anxiety inducing, but rather simply annoying and repetitive. They can be bothersome, yes. But they are not upsetting the way OCD-related intrusive thoughts are for me.

The mental tics can, however, be disruptive, especially if I’m trying to focus. Tic disorders of any kind are especially common for those who have OCD, ADHD, or Autism. I experience a mixture of all of the above, my neurodivergent brain often in overload.

I feel mental tics are hardly ever talked about. I’ve read about mental tics anecdotally by other’s with tic disorders or #TouretteSyndrome; it is not an official diagnostic symptom, but a possible additional feature of this type of neurodivergence.

I share this to continue to educate others about my experience and help those that come across this to feel less alone if they relate.

Join my Tic disorders & Comorbidities! here on The Mighty as well if you’re interested!

Do you have mental tics?

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Baking things with tics can be a challenge and require special tools and extra ingredients. By special tools, I mean things like rubber spoons and plastic bowls. They hurt a lot less when you whack yourself in the head with them compared to wooded or metal spoons and plastic bowls don't shatter like glass. The extra ingredient thing is so when things go flying or get dumped in the wrong place (such as someone's head) you still have enough to finish the recipe. Luckily any mess you make is always cleanable and if you keep your food dog-friendly man's best friend will gladly help you clean up any mess you make. However, this treat of brownies is not dog friendly so don't let them help with this clean-up.

For more comics check out Ticed Off Adventures website linked below.

#touretteswithoutregrets #tourettesbelike #tourettesitsnotwhatyouthink #touretteswarrior #tourettesyndromeawareness #Tourettes #TouretteSyndrome #TicDisorders

Comics | Ticedoffadventures

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Sunshine 🌞

It's finally starting to warm up outside! Seeds are sprouting flowers are budding and blooming and leaves are on trees! The sun is shining! It's all so beautiful! Hope you all get to enjoy some sunshine and smiles this week!

What are some of your favorite things to do in the sunshine?

The artist loves to watch things grow as she draws or crotchets.

Go to Ticed Off Adventures websites for more comics and characters. Link below

##ticedoffadventures #TouretteSyndrome #TicDisorders #tics #FunctionalNeurologicalDisorder #sunshine #Comic #Sensoryfriendly

Comics | Ticedoffadventures

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Go to foods...

Sometimes making meals and eating can be difficult due to sensory issues or our tics just making us spit out our food or throw it or other things like smashing it. Things the artist does to help her eat is she eats toast a lot and subs meals with smoothies and nutritional shakes when she has to. Sometimes it's the exhaustion from ticing that just makes you too tired to eat as well, especially from an attack. Sometimes your abdominal tics make you sick and after that, it's hard to force yourself to eat because eating will just make it worse. Other go-to foods are things like cheese sticks or oatmeal or pancakes. She eats gluten-free and low sugar as it helps her feel better but each to their own. What are some of your go-to food for when you really don't have the energy to eat?

Go to Ticed Off Adventures website for more comics linked below!

#TouretteSyndrome #ticthealien #TicDisorders #SensoryDisorder #SensoryIssues #SensoryProcessignDisorder #Sensoryfriendly #eating

Comics | Ticedoffadventures

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Tourette Syndrome and FND #FunctionalNeurologicalDisorder #TouretteSyndrome #nurologicaldisorders

Tourette Syndrome and FND both can deal with some miscommunication or glitching in the brain which results in some interesting instances. These miscommunications have caused the artist to dump full glasses of drinks, fall randomly, throw things, mix up or repeat words, etc. It's not a fun combo. It has led to many embarrassing and funny stories. What is something these miscommunications have caused that has made you laugh?

Last Saturday the artist was at her cousin's birthday party and kept calling him a pumpkin.

Find more comics on Ticed Off Adventures website linked below

Comics | Ticedoffadventures

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