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Just What is Tourette's Syndrome?

Updated on November 7, 2012

I've been watching American Idol for many seasons. One of the most memorable was the season James Durbin auditioned for the judges. At that time, he told them that he had Tourettes syndrome and Aspergers disease. This was quite a surprise to me as his singing was really good and he gave a spot on performance, impressing all the judges. Although he exhibited a few tics, he had no other symptoms which might get in the way of his performing. The only thing I thought was a little weird about him was his hair, which has changed somewhat since the stylists on American Idol have gotten a hold of him.

Tourette's Syndrome

According to Wikipedia,Tourettes is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic; these tics characteristically wax and wane. Tourette's is defined as part of a spectrum of tic disorders, which includes transient and chronic tics.

Genetic and environmental factors play a role in the etiology of Tourette's, but the exact causes are unknown. In most cases, medication is unnecessary. There is no effective medication for every case of tics, but there are medications and therapies that can help when their use is warranted. Explanation and reassurance alone are often sufficient treatment;[6] education is an important part of any treatment plan.

Asperger's Disease

WebMD defines Aspergers asa type of pervasive development disorder. PDDs are a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination.

Although Asperger's syndrome is similar in some ways to autism -- another, more severe type of PDD -- there are some important differences. Children with Asperger's syndrome typically function better than do those with autism. In addition, children with Asperger's syndrome generally have normal intelligence and near-normal language development, although they may develop problems communicating as they get older.

Durbin's performances

As the weeks went by, Durbin just got better and better. He seemed relaxed, at ease, and perfectly able to handle the big stage and huge audiences. How's that for overcoming your handicap? All the judges loved him and were very encouraging, especially Steven Tyler. Durbin is a rock singer and has a similar approach to Tyler on stage. He does a lot of controlled screaming and moving around.

"I think sometimes it takes a little bit of being crazy to make a difference in this world. And that's what you're all about." said Steven Tyler...who better than crazy rocker Steven Tyler to make such a statement?


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    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      I remember watching a documentary years ago on this subject and it issuch a stressful and degrading illness; I didn't really know much about it but I have learnt so much more from this hub. Thanks for the obvious hard work and also for sharing.Eddy.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Asperger's is an interesting affliction. It seems that those who suffer from it have very high levels of intelligence in certain areas.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      Very interesting. There was once a person with Aspergers on a local music quiz show here - and he cleaned up! His recall of information on pop music was quite phenomenal.

      Love and peace


    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      And he can really sing. Have you heard him?

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      He is a fascinating fellow and how amazing~!

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Glad you popped in to say hello.

    • Randy Behavior profile image

      Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean

      I'm not watching tv these days but am glad I popped in for the education on Asperger's Disease. Thanks for that.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Yeah, he's a real inspiration. My grandmother always used to say "whatever doesn't kill us will only make us stronger" and I firmly believe this. I overcame cancer and it definitely had that effect on me.

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 6 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      I voted for James. I find him talented and an inspiration, wow. Here I am a woman who has overcome a hearing disability, yet sometimes I get fustrated, but this young man inspires me to always be positive and move forward with my goals in the second half of my life.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      He reminds me more of Steven Tyler. Yeah, I think he's really good.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 6 years ago from Minnesota

      He's amazing, isn't he? I voted for him too and I'm so impressed with how well he is handling himself in this competition. I think he will end up being a great spokes person for tourettes and Aspergers. His singing and high screams remind me of Adam from last season.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Interesting...guess it doesn't get in the way of successful performing. Thanks for the nice comment.

    • optimus grimlock profile image

      optimus grimlock 6 years ago

      A few years ago the guy who won last comic standing josh... had tourettes and he was funnier then alot of comedians without a disability! nice article i'll have to check huim out