I'm not a huge American Idol fan. I watched the first couple of seasons and then some how I just lost interest. I never even voted- but all that is going to change this season!
Dave Pittman is a young man who suffers from Tourette's syndrome. It's a neurological disorder that causes the person to have involuntary ticks such as, blinking,head jerking, grunting and so much more. In some severe cases the person actually blurts out profanity and rude remarks all involuntarily. These ticks are usually repeated in sets of 3, occurring continuously. On occasion when they concentrate hard enough on something the ticks might subside but really for only a matter of minutes.
Can you imagine that?
I don't have Tourette's Syndrome but my younger brother does.
My brother Paul and I swimming at our Grandma's house late 70's
Paul was diagnosed early on in childhood. It started with a sniff that he wouldn't stop. My mother thought it was a habit and tried to help him break it. She put a rubber band around his wrist and would give it a quick tug whenever he sniffed. Not to hard, just enough that he would associate sniffing with the snap of that rubber band and stop.
Don't judge! It was the 70's!! They did a lot of stuff back then that we consider unacceptable nowadays. For instance, anyone remember the cigarette candies? You know the ones that allowed you to simulate actually smoking? You blew on it while it was in your mouth and powder would come out the other end like a puff of smoke!!
Can you imagine anyone buying those for their kids today???
Anyhow, when the sniffing didn't go away and he started to pick up other strange "habits" my Mother realized that something was wrong. I don't remember much of the details of what happened next but I do know it was many doctor's appointments, many medications and many therapy sessions.
After awhile, everyone in the family was just numb to it. I mean it was so much and so often that it kind of just became normal. To be honest being "different" didn't appear to bother him to much. If it did, he never really let any of us know it.
Starting on the left- Me, my Mother, my Great Grandmother, my Aunt and my Brother
I'm sure his insane sense of humor helped. One day he was riding the bus home from school and a new kid got on and sat down next to him. Now I should tell you first that my brothers ticks were as follows: Severe had jerk (think trying to get your hair out of your face without the use of your hands) he would also push his jaw out far in front of him sort of stretching his neck muscles and last but certainly not least he would bark. Not bark like Ruff Ruff but a grunting noise that sounded an awful lot like a bark. Be honest did you just try to do any of those?? ;) Ok, back to the kid on the bus. He sat down next to my brother and immediately noticed his ticks. The kid looked at him concerned and said are you ok? My brother replied "Ya, but what I have is contagious so you might want to move." It took the poor kid 2 weeks before someone set him straight.
For Tourette's being so unknown at the time, it really surprises me how well he was received by other children. I imagine if you didn't grow up with it or in my case next to it, it would be pretty bizarre. Not everyone was so accepting though.
My brother did encounter ignorant people. He was always better then me at allowing them to remain ignorant. I on the other hand always felt the need to set them straight. Let's hope they've grown up and realized the error of their ways. Let's also hope they are Idol fans so they can see that having Tourette's doesn't stop you from pursuing a dream!!
As for my brother, he is married with 2 children. His job allows him to do a bit of traveling while he goes from hospital to hospital fixing and maintaining M.R.I. machines. His Tourette's has taken it's toll on his body though. After approximately 30 years of head jerking he's damaged his neck and is in pain most of the time. And just like when we were kids, you'd never know it.
Check out this video of Dave Pittman's audition for American Idol.