Double-whammy for Tourette’s

Symptoms can mirror Coronavirus coughs

PEOPLE with Tourette Syndrome are suffering mental health issues because they are being mistaken for COVID-19 carriers, says the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia.

The misunderstood neurological condition begins in childhood or adolescence and causes rapid physical tics like coughing and sneezing.

“In the current environment, those with involuntary coughing, sniffing or throat clearing tics are causing adverse reactions from the public who mistake tics for sickness, highlighting the need for a greater understanding around the complexities of the disorder,” wrote the association.

“With 85 per cent of those with Tourette Syndrome also experiencing concurrent conditions such as OCD, ADHD, anxiety or depression, the severity of these conditions is worsening amidst the pandemic.

“A new analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on those with Tourette Syndrome, has revealed that these ‘invisible’ conditions are triggered by the panic surrounding the pandemic, loss of routine and inability to release physical energy.

“Those with Tourette Syndrome in self-isolation are struggling with increased anxiousness and obsessive behaviours as well as extreme phobias of catching coronavirus.” 

Unfortunately most people associate Tourette’s with an adult swearing uncontrollably on YouTube, and the condition is wrongly attributed to behavioural or emotional issues.

But Tourette’s is a serious neurological disorder that affects about 45,000 children in Australia who suffer from involuntary muscle movements and vocalisations, which can impact learning and lead to bullying.

Recent research reveals that one in four Australians have never heard of Tourette’s and just 15 per cent of parents have taught their children about the condition.

The association is urging the public to learn more by visiting its website tourette.org.au during Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week (May 4 – 10). The website also has an information pack to help children with Tourette’s cope with the pandemic.

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