Living with a disability is challenging, especially one as misunderstood and publicly visible as Tourette Syndrome. “Welcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of Touretteshero” (Chicago Review Press, April 2013) by Jessica Thom, with a foreword by Stephen Fry, is an honest account of Thom’s life as she navigates the world of public transportation, working with children and daily tasks complicated by her uncontrollable verbal and physical tics.
Frustrated by a lack of understanding, Jessica set out to document her struggles and successes as a person diagnosed with severe Tourette. Squawking on the bus, shouting the word “biscuit” several hundred times a day, hitting herself in the chest until her knuckles bleed, applying for disability programs to cover the extra expenses of living with Tourette and explaining her condition to gawking onlookers might have caused her to succumb to depression.
However, she chose to see herself as Touretteshero, “changing the world one tic at a time.”
“Welcome to Biscuit Land” is a celebration of the humor and creativity of the syndrome. Thom experiences compassion in the form of kind strangers who defend and help her, understanding responses of inquisitive children and love and support from a remarkable cast of friends and family members including Leftwing Idiot, Fat Sister and King Russell.
Living with Tourette isn’t easy. “Welcome to Biscuit Land” is funny, moving, sad, surprising and ultimately heart-warming account of Thom’s contagious optimism.
Thom studied drawing at Camberwell College of Art, works as the project coordinator at Oasis Children’s Venture in South London, and writes her daily blog www.touretteshero.com. Stephen Fry is a well-known actor, screenwriter, comedian, author and director.