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New Campaign by TSFC Puts a Face on Tourette Syndrome News Staff
May 18, 2011

People with Tourette Syndrome will often say: it's not one condition, it's many. And yet for most Canadians, it remains a mystery. So a new campaign is using a multimedia approach to explain this multifaceted condition.

The campaign, called @Random, aims to show Tourette Syndrome through the eyes of those it affects.

Click HERE to view the actual video presentation.

Patients from across Canada were asked to produce their own films about living with the sometimes bizarre disorder.

Each of the participants was given a flip camera to document their days and how the condition affects their lives. Then advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi then helped to edit the videos down and add music and production.

The Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada has collected the films and arranged them randomly to make up a documentary like no other. Every time someone watches this documentary off the foundation's new website, it will be different -- just like Tourette Syndrome is different for everyone.

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements, called tics. Some of the tics are brief and almost imperceptible, such as blinking or throat-clearing, while others include motor movements such as punching oneself or random yelling.

The tics can interfere with socialization and communication and can make it difficult for patients to have a normal social and work life. But some patients, like Gord Brown, live normal lives, despite their odd behaviours.

"I am a success story, I own a house and I've been working for Canada Post for 32 years? I don't let anything get in my way," he tells CTV News.

Brown, 51, wasn't diagnosed until he was 33. Until then, he'd live a childhood where he was constantly told to stop misbehaving. His teachers used to put tape on his mouth in a misguided effort to stop him from doing his verbal tics.

The videos show how many people with Tourette's channel their energy into music, art, and their work.

Matt, for example, has found that drumming is his way of releasing his uncontrollable energy. And like many, his symptoms disappear while he's focused.

Other patients, like Mandeep Sanghera from Surrey, B.C., show what life is like for those with more severe forms of the condition. Sanghera, 20, has pronounced Tourette's that causes him to jump and whoop uncontrollably and make it difficult for him to keep a job.

He's a smoker but can't resist the urge to burn his arms repeatedly as he smokes. He also finds it hard to keep friends and meet a girlfriend, with many put off by his odd tics and screams. But he says he finds peace when he is taking photos of nature.

Showing the different sides of this condition is an important message, says psychologist Dr. Duncan McKinlay, who also has Tourette syndrome.

"What I think this campaign will do is finally put to rest that tired, lame, old stereotype that everyone with Tourette's is a bizarre freak that goes around swearing. There is a wide array of insightful, intelligent passionate creative people with this," he says.

Many in the videos say they feel judged and ostracized because of their condition and hope that this campaign will fight ignorance by offering a close-up look at their lives.

With a report from CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro
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