Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tourette's Syndrome

Tourette’s Syndrome has been largely overshadowed today by the preponderance of autism, ADD and ADHD. Approximately 3 out of 1,000 children have Tourette’s and white children are twice as likely to have this syndrome as other ethnicities. The disorder affects 3 times more boys than girls. Boys are more likely to suffer from tics while girls are more likely to have obsessive compulsive disorders. Those afflicted may experience physical tics, involuntary repetitive movements or vocalizations. Early symptoms can be mild and overlooked. They can be as simple as having a tendency to constantly shrug shoulders to more noticeable issues such as flapping arms or touching anything and everything. Vocal tics range from hiccupping to obscene language.

The onset for Tourette’s is generally between 7 and 10 years of age. As children enter their preteen and teens years, the severity of symptoms increases for a while but subside as the child enters early adulthood.

Children afflicted with Tourette’s often have other neurological or behavioral issues such as the inability to pay attention, hyperactivity, ADHD or obsessive compulsive disorders. They may struggle in school due with reading or math and oftentimes struggle with repetitive behaviors that disrupt the class.

Researchers suspect that Tourette’s is a genetic disorder. While there’s no known cure at this time, there is hope. Maintaining a calm environment reduces the stress and anxiety a patient experiences with Tourette’s. For some patients, medications can provide relief of certain symptoms. Behavioral therapy can also help patients learn to control some of their tics.

Many brilliant people with Tourette’s have been extremely successful:

  • Howard Hughes was considered eccentric. He had an obsession about germs that stayed with him throughout his lifetime. A billionaire, he was highly successful with Hughes Aircraft and movie production.
  • Howie Mandel, the beloved host of “Deal or No Deal” also has OCD about germs. You may have noticed he will touch knuckles with his guests but never shake their hands. He additionally built a second home that is sterile that he uses whenever his germ phobia is too overwhelming so he can avoid everyone, including his own family.
  • David Beckham the soccer superstar from England struggles with an obsession that everything needs to be in a straight line or in pairs and in perfect order.
  • Dan Aykroyd, best known for his role as Elwood Blues in movie "The Blues Brothers" and his role in Ghost Busters had Tourette’s Syndrome as a child along with Asperger’s Syndrome. Today he fulfills many roles as an actor, musician and comedian.

For more information on Tourette’s, please visit the following websites:
The National Institute of Health at http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

The National Tourette Syndrome Association at http://www.tsa-usa.org/

Photo courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilovecolby/3595961366/

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