Tourette Syndrome Association – Industry Focus

Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia is one of the recipients of proceeds of the 2022 National Disability Leadership Organisation’s (NDLO) Disability Staff Recognition Awards.

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder, not a psychiatric disorder, characterised by sudden, repetitive, rapid, and unwanted movements and vocal sounds, called tics.

It is not a psychiatric disorder but rather a neurological one, but there’s still a lot of misinformation, discrimination and ignorance in the community surrounding it and the people who live with the disorder.

Education is an important means to help the community not only understand the debilitating syndrome but be more accepting and inclusive of the people who live with it.

Sunshine Coast woman Bianca Saez says she has been called some nasty names.

Bianca is a motivational speaker and told 7NEWS recently she has been on the receiving end of offensive, cruel and ignorant comments about her Tourette Syndrome, which she says are always hurtful.

I’ve been called an escaped mental patient by really awful people, and then there’s people that think I am so disabled that I can’t function …,” she said

And it is those sorts of comments that are driving Developing Australian Communities’ co-founder River Night to help re-educate the public on how to address and speak to people with disabilities.

River urges us to just think before we speak, learn the appropriate terms and see and treat people with disabilities as just people.

New research reveals 76% of Australians agree that workplaces need to be more inclusive when it comes to hiring people with a disability.

However, three quarters (78%) also believe that having a disability leads to discrimination in the workplace – shocking figures for the one-in-five Australians living with a disability.

However, recent research by the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia (TSAA) showed that while a quarter (24%) of employed Australians agreed that their workplaces could do more to embrace diversity, one in two (47%) admitted they would have a problem working alongside someone that had involuntary tics, such as screaming or yelling.

A further 42% wouldn’t be happy working alongside someone with a physical or swearing tic.

The association believes it is this outdated attitude towards those living with Tourette Syndrome that unfairly limits the opportunities available to them in the workforce.

Two-thirds (69%) of Australians with a disability admit that it has impacted their ability to get a job while only 4% of the population have worked alongside someone with TS.

With discrimination in the workplace a hot topic this year, the research further found less than half (47%) of all Australians had worked with someone with a disability.

Of those, a quarter say their colleague with a disability wasn’t given the same opportunities as everyone else (26%) and were treated differently (24%).

It is hoped that ongoing public awareness campaigns and media attention – such as River and Bianca’s drive – and community education will go a long way to improving those statistics.

While the cause of Tourette Syndrome is not clearly known, current research strongly suggests the disorder stems from the abnormal metabolism of at least one brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called dopamine and perhaps other neurotransmitters too.

People living with TS can display symptoms from sudden, repetitive, rapid, and unwanted movements to vocal sounds, called tics.

Some of the most dramatic and disabling tics may include motor movements that result in self-harm such as punching oneself in the face or vocal tics such as echolalia or swearing.

Some tics are preceded by an urge or sensation in the affected muscle group (called a premonitory urge). Some with TS will describe a need to complete a tic in a certain way or a certain number of times to relieve the urge or decrease the sensation.

While there is no cure, treatments are available to help manage some symptoms.

While TS is not a psychiatric disorder, secondary psychological problems (like depression) may however arise from persistent difficulties in coping with the disorder and society’s reaction to its unique symptoms.

Tourette Syndrome was named after Dr. George Gilles de la.

Tourette (1857 – 1904) who was a neurologist living in France. He was the first to identify the syndrome by giving a description of the Marquise de la Dampierre, a noblewoman whose symptoms included coprolalia (the involuntary and repetitive use of obscene language). She lived to the age of 86.

The Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia is one of the recipient charities of the National Disability Leadership Organisation’s 2022 MELBOURNE and SYDNEY Disability Staff Recognition Awards, held as part of the Disability Connection Expos next year.

Developing Australian Communities is a proud supporter of the Tourette Association.

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