Friday, August 20, 2010

Gifts From My Enemy

Don't know about my readers, but I've had enough of the downside of Tourette's for one week.  Let's end the week on a high note.  Let's talk benefits.  Tourette's has been recognized has having neurological benefits for longer than I've been studying it.  Some of these features take a little time to view as benefits, but they can be if utilized correctly.

I've already mentioned that we TS folk process things differently.  Cognitive thought and reasoning for "the natives" occurs at the back of the brain.  This isn't meant to be a medical blog, so "back of the brain" will have to suffice.  We visitors process these brain activities near the center of the brain.  We are literally "wired differently".  This is the "fundamental disconnect" that I've discussed.  I literally have no context with which to understand how the natives think.  The converse is also true.  I don't understand yours, but I know I like mine better.  That may sound arrogant, but I don't want to trade. 

It's been shown that because of our wiring differences, TS people have cognitive abilities that differ significantly from most natives.  We have the ability to see "big picture" and "granular detail" with equal clarity, often simultaneously.  This ability alone has made me very successful in my career.  I'm a software engineer.  My specialty is finding problems in other peoples' software code.  My wiring has made me VERY good at this, and very fast.  The OCD even helps with this little gift.  Most in my field HATE to deal with other peoples' code and designs.  I LOVE IT!!  I had the privilege of working with an amazing lady named Lutha Grigsby.  Lutha was a Senior Director at Southwest Airlines at the time.  Lutha had a unique ability to find people's strengths and employ them effectively.  Upon my disclosing that I have TS, she replied that she likes having Tourette's folk in her organization.  She said she's observed that we have a "different kind of intellect", and that she placed great value on it.

Many TS people have natural musical ability.  My own musical career has been an amazing ride.  I've worked in situations and received accolades that no part-time musician should.  I don't think I'd have my "musical voice" without Tourette's.  Certain rhythmic figures become 'tic like' with us when playing.  They become an unconscious, interpretive force in our playing.  We are generally VERY driven in our musical pursuits and hone our craft obsessively.  Music and OCD are a winning combination.

Tourette's makes an effective social filter.  People's "first blush" reaction to us is generally indicative of the person's character and open-mindedness.  If a TS person tells you they met someone once, but don't' like them.  Lock up your valuables.  By adulthood, we've experienced so much rejection that we've learned to "read the wind" with people very accurately.   TS also opens doors for us socially.  We connect more easily with other "damaged people".   We tend to make friends with those who have physical/emotional/mental damage easily.  We all seem to "get each other".  Those who have suffered tragedy connect well with us also.  Trust issues?  We've got 'em, and are generally OK with yours.  Living with TS teaches us to be the kind of friend we want to have.  We are imperfect and learn that we have to offer the level of acceptance that we hope to receive, if not greater.  I consider this Tourette's greatest gift.


  1. Thank you for this explanation. It helps those of us who have not been exposed to Tourette's syndrome.

    FTR, I think my 14 yr old would say some of the same things and she had some learning issues. No, not dumb or uncapable, she learns differently and requires some adaptations.

    This is the first time I have read your blog. I am glad I did and will continue.

  2. Great info and the stuff about code and music both make perfect sense. Thanks for sharing!

  3. My first comments ever!! How appropriate that the first one would be you Deb!!

    Thank you both for the kind words!!