Wednesday, 12 September 2012

'Tourette's: Let Me Entertain You"

On the 10th of September, BBC 3 broadcast a show entitled 'Tourette's: Let Me Entertain You". Episode one is only available at the moment, but more will be available soon so keep your eyes peeled!

Before watching, I knew nothing of Tourette syndrome (TS) or how it can affect individuals. On the show, Reggie Yates (Radio 1 DJ) goes on a quest to find individuals who are affected by Tourette's but who also have musical talent. The programme introduces the viewer to Ruth, Steve and Greg who all experience both verbal and physical 'tics'. According to Tourette's Action, tics are involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements. Interestingly, Ruth highlights that 90 percent of people with TS do not swear uncontrollably (the technical term is 'coprolalia') which is interesting because I imagine this is what most people would normally associate with Tourette's. I'll admit that I did before watching the programme!

The programme introduces a further three individuals, all of whom are teenagers and also experience Tourette's. Jake, Emily and Tom all experience TS differently. For example, Emily will involuntary collapse and is unable to suppress her ticks. Jake, on the other hand, has the ability to suppress his tics whilst in school, but upon returning home has a very intense period of tics because of the suppression during the school day.

All of the people on the show provide a very honest depiction of how Tourette's has affected their lives and the coping strategies they implement in order to try to control their tics. A recurring theme (I'm pleased to say!) is engaging in meaningful occupations. And as jargon-y and professional that may sound, it's a very strong theme throughout the show. For example Greg, 18, roller skates and explains that when he is wearing his skates, his tics are almost non-existent. As soon as they are removed they act as almost a psychological trigger and his tics come back. He explains how he drums and how this has a similar affect. I found it fascinating to watch on the programme, because to hear him speak and to see him when he is wearing his skates is so very different to when he isn’t wearing them.

Ruth was explaining how TS makes social life difficult. When she is on a bus somewhere and her tics become very noticeable, she finds that strangers on the bus almost group together and in her words, “unite in hostility”. This highlights the ignorance towards this condition and how difficult it can make day-to-day activities. Ruth sings, and when asked by Reggie what she feels from getting a round of applause following a performance, she explains how she feels a sense of affirmation, worth and that she belongs within society. I thought this was a really great way to highlight how important it is to do things in life that are meaningful because they really can benefit your wellbeing.

Anyway, I think it is a really good watch, and there are more episodes coming, so if you have some spare time it is worth a watch!

From an OT perspective, I found a little slideshow which gives a brief explanation of how OTs can work with individuals who experience Tourette's but the link doesn't seem to be working, so I'll try and post it at a later date.

You can watch the programme using this link:


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