Monday, April 01, 2013


Tics and Tourette’s Disorder is common but misunderstood

In my role as community education nurse for Backus, I have coordinated countless presentations by the experts on a wide variety of topics.  

When Mahmoud Okasha, MD, Associate Clinical Professor at Yale School of Medicine and a member of the Backus medical staff, approached me because he wanted to present a community education program about Tics and Tourette’s Disorder, I must confess I knew next to nothing about the subject. 

He is the expert in this field, so I made the arrangements for him and then did a little research. What I discovered is that in every school in America there is likely at least one child who has Tourette’s. It is a neurological disorder that starts in childhood and involves involuntary repetitive movements or unwanted sounds that can’t be controlled (tics). 

Tics are classified as either simple or complex. Simple tics are sudden, brief and repetitive, like head jerking, shoulder shrugging, sticking the tongue out, or hiccupping.  Complex tics are distinct, coordinated patterns of movements involving several muscle groups such as touching the nose, touching other people, flapping the arms, repeating others’ words or phrases. 
He will be showing a few clips of a documentary entitled “I Have Tourette’s, but Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me.”  Produced by the Tourette Syndrome Association, this compelling video features children between the ages of 6 and 13 who tell their stories about the challenges they face.  I confess I got choked up watching these courageous children share their experiences — and how they strive to fit in and be accepted.

The program will be held Wednesday, April 3, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Backus Hospital main lobby conference room.

Register for this free program by calling 860-889-8331, ext 6381 and join us as Dr. Okasha educates us all about this unusual and often misunderstood condition. 

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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