Tourettes sufferer wants to help others

PUBLISHED: 08:37 03 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:43 15 June 2010

A SEATON man with Tourettes Syndrome hopes to raise awareness of the condition, dispel misconceptions and show it need not hinder somebody in life.

A SEATON man with Tourettes Syndrome hopes to raise awareness of the condition, dispel misconceptions and show it need not hinder somebody in life.Despite numerous symptoms, David Bowles, 54, of Wessiters, was only diagnosed with the neurological condition 12 years ago. He said: "My life was like a jigsaw, with missing pieces - and then, suddenly, the picture made sense."For a long time, I just wanted to be normal and tried to hide it. "I knew something was wrong, but couldn't help it."Mr Bowles, who writes for computer publications and plans to set up a consulting business, suffers from eye blinking, body ticking - such as wiping his shirt, tapping and sometimes bites his tongue. But he points out that Tourettes is usually accompanied by other neurological problems. He also has adult attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder, for which he is on medication, dyslexia, dyspraxia (clumsiness), and face blindness, meaning he finds it difficult to recognise people.He said: "There's no rhyme or reason to it. It's just cross-wiring of the way the brain works. "And I can only suppress a tick for so long - it's like trying to hold back a cough."However, he does not have outbursts of swearing. "It's a misnomer from the press," he said. "People think that if you're not swearing you don't have Tourettes. Yet only about 20 per cent of people diagnosed with Tourettes have that particular type."While Mr Bowles has been coping with his condition for years, he still finds people's reaction the biggest challenge.He said: "People find my body language can be quite disjointed and are unable to relate to it, others might think 'he's a looney'. They can be suspicious, especially if I'm out on my own."The less people are aware, the more easily it is misinterpreted. And discrimination can be a problem, especially in schools where they are not able to accommodate it."The condition is more prevalent than people realise. Up to two per cent of children of school age would fit the full criteria for diagnosis of Tourettes, but often it's minor and not a problem - provided it's not handled in the wrong way."He explained some teachers, unaware of the condition, could mistakenly reprimand children for what they considered unacceptable behaviour.He believes many children with Tourettes have a hard time at school and has set up forums to chat about the condition and gives talks at schools.He said: "Self-esteem can be so badly damaged if you don't get the right support. I'm keen for children in particular to get the right help."I have had difficulty over the years with all my issues, but I'm putting my challenges and experience to good use. I feel I'm a bit of an ambassador for it.

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