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Tourette’s Syndrome Simulator and University Lecture Recap

Yesterday I gave my guest lecture at the University of Utah. It was a lot of fun and I have to say that I almost completely lost my voice. I’m not used to talking that forcefully for that long.

So that’s why I’m typing instead of singing this post to you in a lovely Youtube clip.

The centerpiece of these talks is becoming the Tourette’s simulator.

Basically, I call participants up to the front and demonstrate a tic for them. Then they spend a couple of minutes trying to tell a story. Every time I snap my fingers they have to perform the tic.

Yesterday the tics ranged from blinking to snorting to banging one’s elbows together.

This serves two purposes that I can see.

The snapping fingers lead to a sense of anticipation, but there’s really no pattern. I think this adequately recreates the sense that a Tourettic has of always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And every day is full of a million shoes, and many of them have nasty cleats.

And the performance of the tic itself shows someone what it is like to be continually subjected to interruptions of speech, concentration, and memory. Also to envision the potential overuse if the simulator were to play itself out over a decade, rather than a two minute discourse on why they do or do not watch American Idol.

It was a great time and if you were there, I hope it was useful for you.

For anyone with Tourette’s, or who knows someone with TS, please point them my way. And if you have not done it yet, please subscribe to the Tictalk Newsletter, which is where I’ll be in touch most frequently on TS-related issues.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Robby G April 1, 2011, 5:36 pm

    Wow nice, you gave a lecture! Is there a video of the lecture??

  • Todd April 5, 2011, 5:42 am

    Josh, that sounds like an eye-opening simulator. I imagine it’s like having hiccups that won’t go away.