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Taking On Tourette Syndrome
In life, you can count on being faced with some sort of life defining challenge or obstacle. Whether it’s weight, poverty, or a condition like Tourette’s syndrome. The main symptoms of Tourette Syndrome (TS) are tics. Symptoms usually begin when a child is 5 to 10 years of age. That’s about when it hit Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams.
Likely one of the busiest guys you’ll ever meet, Councilman Jumaane D. Williams who’s been living with Tourette’s syndrome since childhood does’nt allow the condition to rule his life. Recently Councilman Williams spoke to the New York Times about his condition as he was visiting a local school. He wants students to know you cannot let anything hold you back.
“Yes, I have involuntary movements and vocal sounds,” he said. “I don’t know who still watches ‘The Simpsons’ but Bart said he had it. Or if you watch ‘South Park’ Cartman said he had it cause he was cursing all the time.”
Those who know Mr. Williams know he’s not one to be a TS poster boy. But he knows the statistics are poor for students with learning disabilities and behavior problems – it’s said that 25-35% of students with disabilities graduate on time with full diplomas from the city’s public schools.
The types of tics and how often a person has tics changes a lot over time. Even though the symptoms might appear, disappear, and reappear, these conditions are considered chronic. In most cases, tics decrease during adolescence and early adulthood, and sometimes disappear entirely. However, many people with TS experience tics into adulthood and, in some cases, tics can become worse during adulthood. The first symptoms often are motor tics that occur in the head and neck area. Tics usually are worse during times that are stressful or exciting. They tend to improve when a person is calm or focused on an activity.
There is no cure for Tourette’s syndrome or even a single test, like a blood test, to diagnose the condition. Health professionals look at the person’s symptoms to diagnose TS and other tic disorders. Tic disorders differ from each other in terms of being a motor or vocal, or combination of the both. People who have tics cannot stop their body from doing these things. For example, a person might keep blinking over and over again. Or, a person might make a grunting sound unwillingly.
If you or someone close to you have signs or symptoms related to Tourette’s, contact the Tourette Syndrome Association for more information and resources. It could change someone’s life.