Living with Tourette Syndrome: No, It Isn't Just Uncontrollable Swearing

Jul 26, 2016

It's an easy punch line when someone makes a strange noise or makes a random body movement to joke about Tourette syndrome. But for some Iowans, it isn't funny.

Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition that affects body movement, and one out of every 360 children in the United States is diagnosed each year. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dr. Samuel Kuperman of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who treats patients with TS and two Iowans who live with the syndrome. 

Derek Gunn is from Iowa City and experiences a small vocal tic as well as jerking shoulder movements. He says he doesn't consider it a disability but that is does sometimes make life a little harder. 

"I didn't get my driver's license until I was 18 because I was scared," he says. "But it acts as a nice social filter. People who make automatic judgments about people are pretty easy to weed out when they see me ticing."

Saul Lubaroff also joins the conversation. He tics vocally and has found music to be an outlet. 

"When I started having symptoms, I started playing the saxophone. When my saxophone is in my mouth, I'm not ticing," Lubaroff explains. "I poured everything into that saxophone for years and years."