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Tic Tic, Tick Tock

May 2, 2013

Yesterday was BADD – Blogging Against Disablism Day.  I’m running late.

I remember the first time I searched for people tweeting about Tourettes. One of my friends on twitter had searched for other people talking about a diagnosis of hers – I don’t remember what, exactly – but could only find disablist misuses of the term. Rightly, she was upset. I decided to search for Tourettes, even though I knew all I would find was conflation of it with swear words.

This didn’t happen. At the time I searched, only about half the tweets I found were disablist. The rest were from people who genuinely have Tourettes, or from people supporting us. I was astounded, but only for a few minutes. I had found the word Tourettes difficult to spell, and it certainly wasn’t in my spell checker. This is a word that I speak at least daily, yet I had seen it written so rarely I was stumped. Other people – the people who make jokes that make me cringe, the people who buy books like “Pets With Tourettes”, will be even less likely to be able to spell it.

Before I was diagnosed, I never thought I could have Tourettes, let alone spell it. Everyone thinks they know what it is because we’ve all heard the jokes. I’d never read an article about it, because everyone knows about it, don’t they? The amount of people who haven’t understood the word “tic” when I’ve been explaining how Tourettes affects me has stopped surprising me. I didn’t know that word 5 years ago.

While some diagnoses are still only in the public consciousness as punchlines, there will be plenty of people whose lives are nothing like what crosses people’s minds when they attempt to explain. I am trying to read as much as I can about folks’ own experiences of disability, but I know that there are going to be some things I think I know that are actually completely wrong.

Because of our disablist society, I didn’t know what Tourettes was – so I didn’t know who I was. With all the different disabilities that are misrepresented by society, I’m not the only one.

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