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How to React in the Presence of a Person with Tourettes Syndrome

By Edited Oct 2, 2015 0 1

Tourettes Syndrome

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Tourettes Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder, often characterized by involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations called tics. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, approximately 200,000 Americans have the most severe form of TS, while as many as one in 100 exhibit milder and less complex symptoms. 


If you have ever been around a Tourettes sufferer, you may have felt unsure as to how to react or how to treat the person. Well-meaning individuals often do not realize that TS sufferers can reason and think logically, same as everyone else. The involuntary movements, tics, do not affect the person's thinking ability. If you are ever in the presence of a person afflicted with TouretteSyndrome, here are some tips on how to react.

1. Keep in mind that Tourettes syndrome is not contagious. As stated above, it is a neurological disorder, which involves the brain and the nervous system. You can touch, hug and kiss a person with TS without fear of contracting the disorder.  

2. Treat the TS sufferer with respect. Although there are numerous factors that can trigger the involuntary movements/vocalizations, many patients find that stress will generally worsen the symptoms. Having Trourettes is a source of stress in itself. Do not add more stress to the person’s life by laughing or staring. 

3. Understand that the tics are beyond the person’s control. Unfortunately, people often think that TS patients have control over their actions. Even if the person suppresses the tics to some degree, eventually they will manifest themselves. 

4. Engage in positive activities with the person. If you have a friend or loved one who sufferers from TS, engaging in things he enjoys could be beneficial. It would give the person an opportunity to get his mind off his health problems. Positive interaction can help the person deal with stress positively. 

5. Provide emotional support. Once again, if the Tourettes syndrome patient is a friend or loved one, make it known that you are there for her. Often, one of the major symptoms associated with Tourettes is depression. Let your friend or loved one know that you are there for her if she ever needs to talk. If your friend or loved one agrees, accompany her on her doctor’s appointments. Simply knowing that she has supportive friends and family members could help the person cope with the disorder. 

6. Avoid making Tourette’s syndrome the center of your conversation. If the person feels like talking about it, listen. However, avoid asking too many questions or constantly bringing up the subject. 

Overall, it’s important to learn all you can about Tourettes syndrome. Knowledge about the disorder can help you avoid saying or doing things that could harm your friend. Treat your friend with respect, the same way you would like to be treated. 


Copyright © 2011 Ana Jackson. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part constitutes plagiarism, is illegal and strictly prohibited.




Jan 5, 2011 1:53am
I am glad you posted this. I have Tourette Syndrome and various disorders and involuntary movements/sounds. I looked by key word and I only saw your article show up. Thanks for raising awareness and for teaching people that we are all the same. RESPECT! thanks again.
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