Tourette Syndrome (TS), also known as Tourette’s or Tourette Disorder (TD), is a neurodivergence. It can occur alone, though 85% with Tourette’s experience it as a co-occurring condition with autism, ADHD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Tourette’s is most evident in the form of involuntary tics. These could be repeated sounds, words or body movements. Whilst the stereotypical association is with profanities, known as coprolalia, this only affects 10% to 25% of people, this figure varies depending on which page you read on the Tourettes Action website.

It can be any phrase, any word, whistling, random sounds, gargling, coughing, any sound at all. It can also involve any movement at all, from repetitive blinking, head jerking, jumping or touching. It can involve echolalia (copying other people’s sounds and words) and echopraxia (copying others’ body movements).

Very much like the more negative aspects of other neurodivergencies, tics become more prominent when tired, stressed and anxious and when faced with challenging situations. Some tics are harmless and others cause a great deal of discomfort to the individual. Again, similar to autism, Tourette’s tics are controllable, to a degree, though it is exhausting. Yet again, like autistics, Tourette’s tics seem to be alleviated when the person is in a high degree of focus – hyperfocus.

Often Tourette’s symptoms become more infrequent with age, sometimes with therapy and sometimes with medication.

Singer Billie Eilish has Tourette’s, she also has synaesthesiawhich is a co-occurring condition for some autistics too. Lewis Capaldi (singer) was also recently diagnosed with Tourette’s and Melanie Sykes self-diagnosed with it in summer 2023, following her autism diagnosis and the subsequent research this led her to. The reason I mention a few of the celebrities that are going public with their neurodivergencies is simply that I take celebrities willingness to ‘go public’ as being a positive sign for the rest of us – it all helps to reduce the stigma.