By now, many of you likely have heard about the case of the 12 LeRoy, N.Y., female students who developed Tourette Syndrome-like symptoms and tics in December. Various news reports, medical claims and reports by experts since have been all over the Internet.
There are many different theories out there about what exactly contributed to the onset of these TS-like symptoms, but according to Wikipedia, the girls’ school was tested for toxins and all other factors for their symptoms were ruled out, the girls were diagnosed with a “mass psychogenic illness” resulting from stress.
What we at TSParentsOnline want to know is this: What do you think of this entire case? Does it help or hurt Tourette Syndrome advocacy? If you or someone you know has TS, how does this entire case make you feel? Do you agree with the ultimate diagnosis of these girls? What is your opinion about some of the things said by the doctors and experts in this case?
Many people from all over the country already have weighed in with their thoughts, which you can check out after the “continue reading” jump. We would love to hear your opinion, too, and you can let your voice be known about this very important, trending topic in one or more of several ways:
- By leaving a comment in this blog entry’s comments section
- By logging on to our Facebook page and leaving a comment on our wall or under the status update about this topic
- By logging on to our Twitter page and sending us a tweet
- By sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
- Decbaal V. says … “I’m not a parent, but I have TS and I do not think they are faking. Although I have only been able to see like three or four of the girls, it looks like they do have some kind of tics. It is odd that 12 girls came down with tic-like symptoms. Although we still know little about TS and the cause, scientists can only guess, so it might be possible that all of them have TS or tics, but it’s possible only a couple of them have tics and the others the Conversion Disorder. It’s hard to say — the doctors don’t give straight answers.”
- Patrina D. says … “I did read it last week. Not to sure what to make of it.
My 12-year-old Son has TS, and I know it is largely affected by stress. I don’t really agree with the whole ‘Conversion Disorder’ theory. I think it is quite possible that the group of students could be stressed out by a certain teacher, perhaps, and that could definitely cause it. I know it has for my son. I am now reading that it could be the result of the Gardisil injection. I do not believe that could be the case, either, as why haven’t we heard about it happening anywhere else? I myself had that shot and do not have any symptoms of TS. Perhaps it could be an environmental issue, but really what I think it comes down to is anxiety. From what I have seen in my son, that is a major stressor. I do not agree with the fact that they supposedly have ‘answers’ and are not sharing them. How are we to help one another if we don’t have all of the important information?”
- Melissa W. says … “Like someone else mentioned, I believe that one of the girls really does have TS and the rest are Conversion Disorder. I find it odd that no boys have reported having these symptoms, especially since TS is much more common in males. Hopefully this story will shed some light on what people with TS deal with every day.”
- Susan E. says … “This has been a hot topic on my Facebook TS support group Tic Talk. I am personally undecided as to what it is. I agree that its not the Gardisil shot. My daughter who has TS has had two out of the three shots that make up the Gardisil vaccination. Since the first shot in the spring of 2011, her tics have actually decreased. There is a young girl in our group that has TS and attends the same high school. She’s the one who told us about before it became national news. Her tics are so bad on days she has to use a wheelchair. She has had a daily struggle and has had nothing but a rough time from the other kids and the school. In fact I think one of the girls effected has also teased her in the past. She is upset over all the attention and help these girls are getting.”
- Holly M. says … “It is very mysterious. Honestly, I think that it has to have a neurobiological component such as a propensity towards TS. Maybe they all have distant family members with TS or common co-morbid conditions such as OCD, anxiety, ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder …? I have a hard time believing that these symptoms, which are so exactly TS-like, could so easily be self-talked into, essentially. It sounds like what they are saying is that the girls were so stressed about getting it that they got it. If it was just several individuals getting stressed, they would all manifest differently if they weren’t somehow focused on tics, so a focus on tics has to be a component in their theory.
“The misconception that many people already hold — that if you just believe yourself to be normal and don’t give in to mental illness, you will be well — could potentially be reinforced by this story. As a parent, I have been told that it’s the parent’s fault that the child is hyper or has tics or has this or that, because the parent is telling the child they have TS, ADHD, etc. — that we shouldn’t label these kids and definitely don’t tell the kids at school unless things get out of control because then they might be treated differently.
“Do people really believe parents talk their kids into not being normal? The idea is so offensive to me and it makes me angry on these girls’ behalf because the implication is that they are mentally weak, highly suggestible individuals. If they are, and I don’t believe they are, it is not without some predisposition to tics, in my opinion. Stories like this, attributing tics to psychogenic illness, could help spread awareness of the difficulties of living with TS, but could also serve to reinforce these opinions and attitudes about TS being ‘all in your head.’ “
- Curmudgeon Ess says … “I’m angry, actually. My son has had seizures like this for several years, and no doctor we have seen has been able or willing to help; my son even was accused of faking it.”
- Robin L. says … “It makes me angry, too. I feel that these girls are being taken seriously, while other people in the past haven’t been. … (In response to Susan E.’s post) That makes me so angry to hear about that girl. I am so sorry to hear her story and hope she does get better. Sounds about right for the experience for people with TS. People make fun of you and talk about you behind your back. And now that these popular girls have it and know what its really like, and that you can’t help it, they are furious about it. Serves them right.”
- Gayle F. says … “Actually, I called NBC three times to give them NJCTS’ phone numer and I also e-mailed information to The Today Show. I am a mental health professional and was furious that these girls were given a psychiatric diagnosis [i.e mass hysteria]. A doctor who was not able to come up with some sort of medical answer just came up with some Freud-like diagnosis. Too many people given air time who know not about what they speak! I hope someone knowledgeable gets to these girls who can give them some accurate answers!”
- Christina D says … “I actually do not like the reference as ‘Tourette-like symptoms’ given by the media. Tourette is more than tics, so this does not help in awareness. They don’t have TS. They have been diagnosed by a neurologist with mass hysteria. Associating this with TS gives the wrong idea of it being a mental illness. They have psychological medical history previously according to one of the students own disclosure on The Today Show. I don’t think it is a mystery at all and more like sensationalism at it’s best! I think the conspiracy theories are a bit much, too. The media attention is only going to aggravate their tics and slow down improvements.”