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Last Updated: 11/20/2017
 

Article of Interest - Tourette's Syndrome

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I Have Tourette’s but Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me

Teacher’s Guide: http://www.hbofamily.com/programs/whole_family/Tourette.pdf

I Have Tourette’s but Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me is an HBO documentary about
several children with Tourette Syndrome who live in a world that very rarely understands them. In the film, these children talk openly about the conflicts they face each day as they struggle, like all children, to fit in.

The Tourette Syndrome Association has developed Lesson Plans to encourage schools to include the documentary as a part of their curriculum in Health, Character Education,

Language Arts, Science, Diversity, anti-bullying lessons or any of the many other areas where it would be appropriate. It is suitable for children of all ages. It is designed to educate students about the neurological disorder, Tourette Syndrome (TS), but goes beyond as it teaches students that every person is different in some way and that differences should be accepted and celebrated.

The show will air at the following times: 11/20, 11/24, 11/30, 12/6 at 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on HBO FAMILY - EAST
    

Visalia Boy Featured in Tourette's Documentary
James Ward, Visalia-Times Delta, November 14, 2004

Every time Kelly Coulter watches her son in the documentary "I Have Tourette's but Tourette's Doesn't Have Me," she cries -- and it's getting on William's nerves.

"Boo, hoo, hoo," said the 11-year-old , rolling his eyes. "Geez, mom."

But when you talk with Kelly Coulter about her son and his battle with Tourette's Syndrome, you can understand her mixture of pride and happiness watching her well-spoken, precocious son in the HBO documentary.

After a struggle with doctors, hospital officials and teachers starting when William was 7, Kelly Coulter and her husband, JB, were told their son had Tourette's syndrome.

The disorder is characterized by a wide range of physical "tics" and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. In William's case, the symptoms include uncontrollable blinking, arm movement and the compulsion to touch items an even number of times.

"It's like fighting an urge to stretch all the time," William said. "You want to stop it, but you can't."

After her son was diagnosed, Coulter joined the Central Valley Tourette Syndrome Support Group. The Coulters' work with the group eventually led to contact with award-winning documentarian Ellen Goosenberg Kent, who was making a documentary about Tourette's.

After several phone interviews, William traveled in late 2003 and early 2004 to Southern California for two filmed interviews. The filmmakers asked him about his feelings about the disorder and the difficulties he has faced at school.

"I hate substitutes," William tells the camera at one point. "Substitutes and Tourette's don't mix."

Later, film crews came to Visalia to film William's 10th birthday party and his "show and tell" presentation about Tourette's to his Royal Oaks School classmates.

Besides William, the documentary features several other children between 8 and 13 engaged in a wide range of activities -- playing piano, attending surf camp and creating comic books -- as they deal with Tourette's.

The children speak frankly about the emotional impact of the disorder, especially when they are ostracized by their peers and face the wrath of unsympathetic adults or teachers.

"Sometimes you feel like a marked man," a boy named Seth says in one revealing moment.

But the documentary does have some hopeful moments, too. We see one boy make a friend at surf camp. And William's classmates seem both fascinated by the disorder and sympathetic with the 11-year-old.

With the help of medication, William's symptoms are lessened but don't disappear altogether, Coulter said.

"It's like dealing with a child with asthma," Kelly Coulter said. "Tourette's is always there in the background."

Because Tourette's in many cases worsens during adolescence, William's mother is worried about the next few years.

But she hopes documentaries like "I Have Tourette's but Tourette's Doesn't Have Me" give teachers, doctors and the general public a better understanding of children who suffer from the disorder.

 

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