Teenagers with Tourette's Syndrome say there's more to the condition than swearing

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report.

A Falmouth teenager has spoken out about the reality of living with Tourettes.

Wilamena Dyer says that people often think of the condition as the 'swearing disease' - which she says is not the case for most people with tourettes.

At 15 years old, she is an accomplished musician but she has lived with physical and verbal tics since she was four years old.

"Movements are happening all the time, so it may not look like I'm ticcing right now, but I am I'm tensing my shoulders and my tummy. So sometimes you don't even know if someone's ticcing.

Wilamena travels around the UK performing for the National Youth Orchestra without any disruption from her tics during her performances.

However, when the teenager plays either her marimba or her cello her tics subside.

"When I'm playing, it's like your whole brain is being used, is being focused, is being immersed in the music."

"I always describe it as the bit of my brain that makes me tic is too busy to think about it."

Wilamena's father John noticed Wilamena's tics during a school play when she kept 'twitching her nose' but it took until she was in secondary school before she got a diagnosis from a specialist clinic at Great Ormond Street Hospital

He said: "My kind of understanding of Tourette's syndrome was it was people that swore - that's what the media, that's what the world told me. And that does exist, but the vast majority of people with tics or Tourette's syndrome, they don't have that."

Seren says she thinks she could have done better in her GCSES if there was more support for her condition

Seren Arthur is studying in Cheltenham and shares what it's like to experience tics in her Tiktok videos.

The one word that comes to mind when she explains the condition is "exhausting".

She says, "I'm always moving and I can't control it. So it definitely takes up a lot of energy."

Seren says it's such a misunderstood condition with people often labelling "bad parenting" as being the reason children with the condition are struggling in school.

"It's a disability and we can't control it. And that causes a lot of harm to a lot of kids who just grow up trying to suppress their tics and hide it from everybody."

As an ambassador for the charity Tourettes Action Seren often has to correct people's misconceptions about the condition.

People with Tourettes Syndrome will often struggle with their mobility and may need a wheelchair at some point in their life. Credit: Wilamena Dyer/Tictastic

There is a common pattern of people living with the condition for many years without knowing what it is because there are no official NICE guidelines for diagnosis.

Wilamena says having her school recognise her condition meant she could relax more and make exams less stressful for all her classmates.

"The thought of having to be quieter or more still, it just brings them out. So having to sit in a room with lots of people being quiet, trying to do an exam under pressure, you know, trying to get get the best mark.

"That's not what you're concentrating on because the one thing you're trying to do is not tic"