Tourette Syndrome (TS) awareness week is observed from May 1 – 7. TS is a neurological disorder that affects approximately 1 in 100 Australians, with symptoms typically appearing in childhood or adolescence. TS is characterized by involuntary repetitive movements and vocalizations known as tics. These tics can be simple (e.g., eye blinking, throat clearing) or complex (e.g., jumping, spinning, shouting), and they can interfere with daily activities and social interactions.
Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week 2023 is an important opportunity to raise awareness and understanding of Tourette Syndrome (TS) and its impact on individuals and their families. The Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia (TSAA) is a non-profit organization that advocates for those affected by TS and aims to promote research and education about the condition.
Many misconceptions about TS can make life more challenging for those who live with it. For example, some people mistakenly believe that TS is caused by poor parenting, anxiety, or attention-seeking behaviour. In reality, TS is a complex disorder with a genetic basis. It is not the result of poor parenting or personal weakness, and it is not contagious.
People with TS often face significant challenges, including social stigma, difficulty with relationships and employment, and the frustration and embarrassment that can come with tics. That is why it is essential to raise awareness of this condition, promote understanding and empathy, and work together to support those who live with TS.
The TSAA’s research has revealed some concerning trends related to the experiences of people with TS when interacting with first responders. Only 28 per cent of people living with TS describe their experiences with first responders as positive, compared to 96 per cent of the general public. Furthermore, 39 per cent of people living with TS find their experiences with first responders to be stressful, and 14 per cent consider them traumatic.
The TSAA’s research also found that there are many misconceptions about TS in the wider community. For example, 12 per cent of people living with TS feel that their tic’ing appears criminal to the public, and 20 per cent of first responders assume that tic’ing is the result of drug use. Additionally, 29 per cent of first responders associate tic’ing with violent or unpredictable behaviour, and 49 per cent of people in the TS community feel that they get stared at in public.
These findings highlight the need for greater education and awareness about TS, particularly among first responders and state workers. TSAA President Mandy Mayser has called for training and education for staff to help them better understand TS and avoid negative interactions with people living with the condition.
The TSAA offers a range of resources and support for individuals and families affected by TS. These include educational materials, support groups, and advocacy services. Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week 2023 is an opportunity to support the work of the TSAA and raise awareness of the challenges faced by those with TS.
By promoting understanding and empathy, we can help create a more inclusive and accepting society for all. Together, we can make a difference and improve the lives of those living with Tourette Syndrome.
Here are some ways to get involved in Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week 2023 and show your support:
- Learn more about TS: Education is key to promoting understanding and acceptance. Take some time to learn about TS and how it affects people’s lives. You can start by visiting the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia’s website or social media pages.
- Spread awareness: Share information about Tourette Syndrome with your friends, family, and colleagues. Use social media to share facts, stories, and resources, or organize an event or fundraiser to support TS research and advocacy.
- Support those with TS: If you know someone with TS, offer your support and understanding. Listen to their concerns, be patient, and avoid judging or teasing them. Encourage them to seek professional help and connect them with support groups and resources.
- Advocate for TS: Contact your local politicians and urge them to support Tourette Syndrome research, awareness, and advocacy initiatives. You can also write to your local newspaper or radio station to raise awareness of TS and the challenges faced by those with the condition.
Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week 2023 is an opportunity to promote understanding and support for those living with TS in Australia. By working together and spreading awareness, we can make a difference and help create a more accepting and inclusive society. Let’s take this opportunity to learn, listen, and show our support for those with Tourette Syndrome.