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  • Writer's pictureLucy Rodham

Tourette's Awareness Month!

Intro

Hello there! Welcome back to my blog. I'm back again making a new post in celebration of Tourette's Awareness Month (May 15th - June 15th), which is a little different to what I'd usually talk about here. For those of you who may not know I'm a 21 year old artist and game developer with Tourette's Syndrome. Today I want to talk about it!


What is Tourette's Syndrome?

Tourette's Syndrome is a neurological disorder that is recognized by its symptoms of motor and verbal "Tics" (uncontrollable movements and sounds). Tics are often sudden movements/noises and can be both repetitive or situational. Its often stereotyped as swearing, or made to be the punchline of a joke but the condition as a whole is so much more complex. Personally I find it to be an interesting research topic (although I may be biased) but I urge you to do research in your own time.


I'm not a professional so take everything I say here with a pinch of salt. If you want to learn more from people better informed than me check out Tourette's Action, a UK based charity that have great information over on their website (https://www.tourettes-action.org.uk/).

For this post I want to talk about my personal experiences with the condition, this is entirely my own opinions and thoughts as somebody diagnosed with Tourette's.


Personal Experience

Its an interesting condition to have, its like my body is being piloted with three gnomes all fighting over the control panel. It gets me into some interesting situations but I try to laugh it off and just keep on going. My tics have changed quite a bit over the years, but as of writing this my vocal tics range from a dog bark to sentences like "I'm full of beans". My motor tics are less obvious and tend to be arm or neck jerks but some days I could be punching myself or struggle to walk straight.


I was diagnosed at the age of 18 and feel privileged to have had access to the services that lead me to getting support. I know many others don't have that privilege which is why I aim to spread awareness about the condition with what resources I have available.

Personally I've grown to accept it as part of my day to day life but it took me a lot of time to come to terms with it. It hurt knowing I was unsafe to drive or the odd looks I get in public but I try my best to be positive and kind to myself. As times gone on I've realized that it's not something I can fight against, but instead have to accept and work alongside. If I try to mask my tics they'll simply just come back stronger, I cannot win in this constant battle for control of my own body. I guess my attitude now is if others have a problem with it then I don't want to bother putting time into them. Its just part of me that cant be changed so I have to make the most of what I can do and the people around me who understand. However, I am fully aware that this attitude is easier said than done. If there's somebody out there reading this who's trying to come to terms with their tics, I know how frustrating it is and nothing is going to feel "okay" instantly but be kind and take the time to remind yourself its nothing to be ashamed about. Having Tourette's has taught me a lot about self acceptance and authenticity. It forces me to quickly break the ice between anyone I meet and not take life as seriously. Its a unique experience that I just have to accept and make the most of whilst continuing my passion in games.


Game Proposal

So, you've come this far in this blog post, hopefully it has been somewhat interesting. In relation to all of this I want to talk about final major project for my masters studies. My final project starts next week and runs until September. My plan is to develop a game demo, focusing on a protagonist with Tourette's Syndrome. For a while I have been working behind the scenes gathering information from others in the community, asking the question "What do you want portrayed" in a game like this. I want to do this right. Which is why I need help conducting research. If anyone is interested in the project and would like to talk to me about their own experience with Tourette's/tics please reach out! I want to make something that allows others to understand And something that is impactful. I want to give a voice to others experiencing tics with my skills in game dev.


I plan to make my demo in Unity, creating a 2D narrative game as that is what feels most achievable with my skillset. I have an art style in mind and will share more information on my plans for the project in a future blog post. (I will be documenting the entire development process once the project starts).


End

In conclusion, to anyone reading this who may be experiencing tics I want you to know its nothing to be ashamed of. If I could speak to a younger me I'd want to tell myself that having Tourette's is okay, I don't have to mask it and people will accept me. Tourette's doesn't stop me from achieving great things and I can still lead a positive life. Take the time you need to understand how it effects you and keep pushing for the things you're passionate about.


To those of you wanting to support a loved one with tics, just take it slow, allow us to communicate our needs and be patient. Treat us the same as anyone else and check in with your loved ones (both with tics and without!). It's the little gestures that matter. I truly appreciate the times those around me have accommodated my needs, such continuing listening to me even if my tics interrupt my speech or just sitting with me and watching a comfort show whilst going through a tic attack. Tics aren't just going to go away but if you work around them and reduce their triggers it can make things a little easier.


Resources

Tourette's action:


Dealing with Disorder:

My interview with Sam from DWD


Check out Tourette's Simulator:


Thanks again for reading! :)

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