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Breaking the stigma is the only cure for Tourette Syndrome

Photo: Breaking the stigma is the only cure for Tourette Syndrome
Two-thirds of Australians (64%) believe more needs to be done to educate children in schools about Tourette Syndrome, as new research reveals one in four (23%) have never heard of the condition.

The research commissioned by the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia (TSAA) reveals the obstacles those with Tourette Syndrome are confronted with daily, with a staggering three-quarters (73%) of Australians expecting them to be bullied for being different.

President of the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia, Robyn Latimer says, “The research findings are alarming and demonstrate the need for greater awareness of Tourette Syndrome in our communities.

“Increasing awareness of this condition is critical if we are to help break the stigma and ensure that those with Tourette Syndrome have access to the same opportunities,” says Robyn.
Tourette Syndrome is a commonly misunderstood neurological condition that is often attributed to behavioural or emotional issues. It affects approximately 45,000 children in Australia and results in involuntary muscle movements and vocalisations.

As just 15% of parents have taught their children about the condition, it reinforces the requirement for further education on Tourette Syndrome. Due to the lack of education, some of the most common misconceptions include that tics are simply nervous habits (57%), Tourette Syndrome affects a child’s ability to learn in school (53%) and the condition is simply shouting obscenities (23%). While Tourette Syndrome does impact access to learning, it does not affect intelligence.

Robyn says, “Our research shows the significant level of misunderstanding that surrounds the condition. Misconceptions about Tourette Syndrome can be very damaging to a child’s development.

“Education is the key to breaking the stigma surrounding Tourette Syndrome. Schools and parents have a responsibility to teach children empathy and understanding, through their own words and actions.

“Having discussions with children from a young age will encourage empathy and build understanding of the diversity in our society,” says Robyn.

During Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week (6 - 12 May) and to mark their 30th Anniversary, TSAA has launched a new interactive app called TAC’TICS. The application actively encourages education during school team activities and enables teachers to facilitate peer-to-peer learning.

Robyn says, “The app has been designed to directly support the education and awareness of children living with Tourette Syndrome in schools throughout Australia.

“TAC’TICS is a fun way to get people with and without Tourette Syndrome involved in learning more about the condition for which there is no cure. For now the best treatment is community awareness, understanding and acceptance,” says Robyn.

For more information on National Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week or to find more information on the TAC’TICS app, go to www.tourette.org.au.

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