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The Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry supports International Tourette Awareness Day

8 Jun 2020 - 14:45

Every year, the 7th June is used to raise awareness around the globe about tics and Tourette syndrome. This year, Prof Petrus de Vries from the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at UCT, joined the ‘Kwela’ team on television for an awareness-raising programme about tics and Tourette’s. Prof de Vries said: “I was very happy to join the programme when they asked me, but I immediately said that they should try to find a young person who lives with Tourette’s to come and tell their story. I thought that would be much more interesting than listening to me!” The Kwela programme, presented by Hannes van Wyk, featured Prof de Vries on the couch with a talented Honours in Economics student from Stellenbosch University, Christoph Pauw. “Christoph was clearly the movie star, and gave a great description of his struggles with tics and Tourette’s”, prof de Vries said. The full interview (in Afrikaans) can be viewed here: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2jd_4aMFKw].

Tourette’s is a neurodevelopmental syndrome that typically starts in middle childhood with motor tics (such as blinking, eye movements or other face movements) and vocal or ‘phonic’ tics (such as throat-clearing, coughing or other simple of complex sounds). Tics ‘waxes and wane’ (come and go) throughout childhood and most people grow out of it by early adulthood. Many people with Tourette’s also have co-occuring neurodevelopmental or mental health problems (such as ADHD, specific learning disorders, OCD or anxiety disorders) and these co-occuring disorders are often the greater concern to people with tics and Tourette’s. Unfortunately, many people in the world don’t understand tics. It is therefore very common to hear how children, adolescents and young adults with tics and Tourette’s have been bullied or teased, almost causing the greatest burden and distress of all.

The message to us all – simply by improving our awareness and understanding, each of us can help to make the world a more welcome place for all people with neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders.