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What I'd like people to know about my TS

Posted Mon 6th Dec 2021 at 12:24
by Alissa Figuera


Alissa talks about college, tic attacks and her loyal dog, Loki

My name is Alissa Figueira and I was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome in 2020.

My tics started off as a neck jerk, and it progressively got worse. My first vocal tic was in July 2020 with the word ‘bee’ - it was shocking, and I was laughing about it with my mum. That same day I was saying more words that all began with the letter ‘B’. A few months later, it was much worse, I was swearing and punching, and developing self-harming tics.

I also experienced a tic attack where I had to go to A&E. When we went to hospital luckily, they made the waiting list faster for us. We were originally seeing a paediatrician for an autism diagnosis but because I had developed tics, we saw the paediatrician much faster. Around 5-6 months ago I developed a new tic, where my feet will turn on the outside when I walk, which is extremely painful, and I now need to use a wheelchair in public.

We spoke to my paediatrician, and she said these tics were caused by my anxiety, which we know isn’t true.

I really think people need to be more educated about Tourette syndrome as most just think it’s all about swearing, yet there’s only around 10% of people diagnosed with TS who have the swearing tic, called Coprolalia.

I’d like people to understand that having TS can really change your life. For me, it’s made me unable to do certain activities, missed out on so much education, not allowed to do most things by myself like cooking, or anything near sharp objects and made me unable to walk far so now I use a wheelchair in public.

Another thing I’d like people to understand is that I cannot just ‘stop’ ticcing because it’s annoying to you. We cannot control anything we say and do and most people with TS cannot suppress or if they do, it can make them tired or make their tics worse later.

Also, my tics aren’t what I’m thinking. If I say something rude to you, don’t take it personally. I don’t mean anything I say and please don’t get upset.

My dog Loki really helps with my tics. He’s a Staffordshire bull terrier and he’s the friendliest dog ever, he knows when I’m having a tic attack and always come up to me and calms me down.

When I’m having a tic attack, I get very, very hot so I keep the door open and put cold water on myself to make me cooler.

I miss quite a lot of college because my TS can be quite bad there. When I’m having a tic attack at college a few people laugh because it’s funny. I don’t mind people laughing, but it does make my tics worse. The more attention on my tics, the worse they get.

My friends are supportive, and they understand about my TS. We all have a joke when my tics say inappropriate things, my friend always makes sure when my tics are bad, I have a moment outside to calm down.

I don’t mind people asking me questions about my condition if they seem interested and they want to learn, but I don’t like explaining things and people still ask the same questions or looking at me weird.

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