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How We Can Support People With Tourette Syndrome — According to Someone With TS

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Tourette syndrome (TS) and other tic disorders rarely ever occur alone. According to the Tourette Association, tic disorders most commonly occur with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). They also often co-exist alongside depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, and autism.

I have had mild tics for many years — some which are more bothersome than others. It was not something that was ever medically addressed, as is the case for many people with tic disorders (Most — although not all— tic disorders are not severe and do not need medical treatment.) I remember being in third or fourth grade and needing to make a clicking sound with my tongue as well as having the urge to sniff my hand repeatedly (which I still do today). I also would have phases where I had tics that involved stretching my neck. There were likely others, but it’s hard to remember them.

Today, however, my main tic involves my toes and feet. It bothers me, so I plan to see a neurologist about this soon. That being said, it’s bearable. I also have a full-body shiver tic too. My tics are hardly noticeable to others — sometimes they bother me, and other times they don’t.

I have several comorbidities. In fact, I feel like I’ve been diagnosed with everything at this point. That being said, I feel my diagnoses (bipolar I disorder, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, dyscalculia, and restless legs syndrome) are accurate. I think that humans are complicated and that it’s a rarity to only have one diagnosis, especially when looking at tic disorders and other neurodivergent conditions.

So how can we best support those with tic disorders and their comorbid conditions?

I think the key is acceptance and education. There are individuals who experience obvious tics and are bullied or judged for them. There are also other people like me, whose tics are subtle but can still be bothersome at times. Many of us need accommodations in school or work for our comorbid conditions, like ADHD, OCD, and learning disabilities.

I recently started a group here on The Mighty for tic disorders and their comorbidities. I welcome you to join if anything of this resonates with you!

I urge you to remember that being neurodivergent can be a beautiful thing. You are uniquely you, as I am uniquely me. Don’t forget that!

Getty image by nensuria.

Originally published: April 5, 2022
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