What are some things you shouldn’t say to a person when they tell you they have Tourette’s? For starters don’t say “Man! That’s so awesome! You can swear all the time and get away with it! I wish I had that!” What are other things you think people shouldn’t say?
This blog is going to start a top-10 countdown of the things you just shouldn’t say to someone who has TS. So what would you say in response to this comment from another person who you have told that you or your child had Tourette’s?
Counting down toward No. 1, here’s No. 8:
Can’t you just stop?!
From Kerri, a mother of a 13-year-old son with Tourette’s:
I like to say to those people that if he (son, 13) could stop, he would. It bothers him a whole lot more than it will EVER bother you. It’s a lot like a staring contest: When you keep yourself from blinking for an extended amount of time, once you give in & blink, your eyes burn & you blink a whole lot more to ease the burning in your eyes. Same with stopping/curbing his tics. And no, he won’t stop.
And from Jo, an adult living with Tourette’s:
I often have a hard time getting people who do not have TS to understand why I can’t ‘just stop’. I liken it to not blinking. How long can you NOT blink for? Sometimes we have a certain degree of control over our tics, sometimes we have none and sometimes we can suppress for short amount of time but that tension then builds. So, if you did not blink for 5 minutes your eyes would become so dry/watery and stinging that when you were allowed to blink again you would blink uncontrollably and repeatedly to make up for the lack of blinking until your eyes felt better again. Yeah, that’s what it’s like to NOT tic.
Look for No. 7 tomorrow. And in case you missed the ones that came before, here’s a list: