Tourette’s group born of local mum’s struggle

Organiser, Deborah Anderson (left) with supporters at a fundraising event in aid of the Tourette Alliance's upcoming first annual conference.

Organiser, Deborah Anderson (left) with supporters at a fundraising event in aid of the Tourette Alliance's upcoming first annual conference.

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A Lisburn woman who struggled after her son’s diagnosis with Tourette’s Syndrome is looking forward to the first annual conference of a support group she helped set up.

Deborah Anderson has been raising funds ahead of the Tourette Alliance conference due to take place in Lisburn’s Pond Park Primary School on August 5 and 6.

A part-time classroom assistant at Pond Park, Deborah revealed she had to give up a teaching post when she herself fell ill while caring for her now 27-year-old son, Ross.

Named for the French doctor who first described the syndrome in the 19th century, Tourette’s is a neurological condition characterised by involuntary noises and movements, or tics, such as grunting, coughing or shouting out words, jerking of the head or jumping up and down.

It is often associated with obsessive compulsive disorder, as is the case with Ross, who also lives with anxiety disorder and severe agoraphobia (fear of open places).

“When he was in his teens and struggling,” said Deborah, “there was no support group and I had little information on his condition. As a result, I, some other parents and young people with Tourette’s and a wonderful group of people from the USA have set up a non-profit organisation called Tourette Alliance to provide that support in Northern Ireland.

“I struggled through my son’s diagnosis and his mental health problems related to Tourette’s because of lack of information and support. That is one of the reasons I passionately feel we need this group in Northern Ireland.”

With a coffee evening at Pond Park, Deborah recently raised £620 towards the upcoming, free-to-attend conference, for which speakers have been lined up from London and the US.

“I was totally overwhelmed by the support I received from my friends and from my school,” she said.

Registration for the Tourette Alliance conference closes on August 2.