By Skylar Mostoller, G9
Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects 3% of the world population, mainly caucasian men. Along with that, about 20% of the population has a tic disorder. Those with Tourettes are known to make brief sounds or movements, or even a mix of both. These can range from basic things, like blinking too hard, jerking their head, grunting, or even barking, to more complex ones like using vulgar language, obscene gesturing, or repeating movements they observe.
Tics can worsen if the person is sick, anxious, or stressed, and can cause the person pain to themselves or harm others.
It is to be noted that this disorder, no matter what the person does, causes involuntary movement and noises. The person affected has no control over what they do and stopping themselves is more detrimental than helpful.
There’s a clear stigma around the disorder already – the loud noises, jerky movements, and distractions being something out of the person’s control easily becomes a showcase that neither parties enjoy. Because of this, many with Tourette’s find themselves uncomfortable in a public setting because of the unwanted attention they bring to themselves, and many without the disorder aren’t too kind about distracting tics.
However, that’s not the biggest part as to why Tourette’s has such a stigma around it. Along with every single curse word in existence, you can find that slurs might also be in the person’s tic dictionary. A reminder that the tics are involuntary and they have no control over this, which many people don’t seem to understand the moment that a slur slips past the lips of someone with Tourette’s.
Under a normal occasion, it would be perfectly understandable if others were upset with the person’s use of language, but even with social media users who are open about their Tourette’s, they still receive any kind of backlash once viewers catch wind of their unfortunate tics.
A common misconception is that the reason the term became a tic in the first place was due to the person saying it constantly before it became part of their disorder, but that’s false. If the person hears it, even once, it could turn into a tic at the drop of a hat. They do this constantly with different movements and phrases too – memes, dance moves, violent movements, etc. all become part of their disorder unwillingly.
Because of this, many with a tic disorder are harassed, threatened, and so on because of something that they cannot control. In a matter of seconds, they could be shadowbanned, blocked, or have accounts disabled if enough people band together to report them enough times.
So, you can see how this can be a problem.
The main cause of this is lack of knowledge about the disorder in and of itself. Many might not even realize that it exists due to how little representation we see on social media about it.
An easy way to go about this is to share information. Articles, websites, Instagram posts – anything that you can find supporting Tourettes and clarifying what it means to have it could go so far as normalizing another disorder and allowing it to become a societal norm.
For creators with Tourette’s, please check out;
For more information about Tourette’s, please check out;
Cover illustration courtesy of Lyka Peng, G11