Tourette syndrome, a mystery to many, focus of Mendham walk
This upcoming weekend in Mendham, the third and last in a series of annual 5K walks will attempt to raise awareness and money for research about Tourette syndrome, a well-known disorder that may not be fully understood by many New Jerseyans.
NJ Walks for TS began in 2010 and is chiefly sponsored by the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders, Inc. Nicole Greco, a spokesperson for NJCTS, said symptoms of TS usually appear first in childhood. That played into the development of these fundraising walks, the other two of which were held earlier this year in Princeton and Medford Lakes.
"This event was started for kids, by kids, to benefit kids in the TS community," Greco said.
But what exactly are the symptoms? They go beyond just the preconceived notion of sufferers blurting out inappropriate words. That particular condition actually shows up in relatively few cases, and according to Greco, it can be the least of concerns for someone who has the disorder.
"Tourette syndrome affects so much of a child's life," she said. "What people might see are the visible tics, but TS is associated with so many comorbid disorders, including OCD, ADHD, and many mental health and learning disabilities."
More than 200,000 Americans have full-blown TS, and those who have it carry a 50 percent chance of passing it on to their children. Men are 3 to 4 times more likely to be affected than women. The affliction is not degenerative and does not alter one's intelligence level or life span, and most cases do not require medication. Still, Tourette's remains pervasive.
"One in 100 children has Tourette syndrome," Greco said. "That affects every single community in New Jersey."
Registration for NJ Walks for TS at Mendham is available online, along with more information about what Tourette syndrome is and how it affects people, at njcts.org. The Mendham walk, which is also a family fun run, is scheduled for rain or shine on Saturday, Nov. 14 at Mendham Boro Park. All proceeds will go toward important initiatives to benefit New Jersey children living with TS.
Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's evening news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and listen for his live reports Monday through Thursday nights between 6:30 and 11 p.m.