Mother critical of TV Tourette’s portrayal

PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 January 2013

carol service to raise money for Molly who suffers from Tourettes pictured with her mum Emma.

carol service to raise money for Molly who suffers from Tourettes pictured with her mum Emma.


WHEN you hear of someone suffering from Tourette’s, one of the first words that is likely to pop into your head is ‘swearing’.

Most times people encounter the illness is on television, where it is often either used in comedy sketches or flippantly used to describe someone who regularly uses expletives.

Molly Worthy is not a comedy character however. She is a 13-year-old girl who has suffered from Tourette’s syndrome for nearly half her life.

It affects her in many ways, but according to her mother Emma, it has never made her swear aloud.

Contrary to what television script writers often lead us to believe, a large proportion of sufferers do not involuntarily swear in public, and Emma wants to see an end to the comedic use of Tourette’s.

She said: “You wouldn’t pick on a child in a wheelchair who can’t use their legs. Similarly Molly can’t control what she does. I don’t see the difference.”

Tourette’s is an illness that causes the body to make involuntary ticks and it affects Molly’s day-to-day life in many different ways.

She attends Churchill Academy and Sixth Form and medication means she is able to lead a normal school life, but it means the symptoms are worsened at home.

Emma admits there are times when Molly shouts inappropriate phrases or makes rude hand gestures, but these times are few and far between.

While the effects tend to change from day-to-day, they normally vary from sudden jerking movements to continuing grunting.

Emma added: “Molly can be doing things when she then suddenly drops to the floor.

“The most frightening thing she does at the moment is a very high-pitched shrill scream. If I can’t see her, I don’t know whether it is genuine or the illness.

“Tourette’s sufferers can say things that are inappropriate but it isn’t funny. It’s a serious condition.

“Molly knows she is upsetting people but she can’t help it. People who don’t know her can think she is just a horrible child, but she isn’t.”

For Emma and her husband Rob the battle to come to terms with their daughter’s illness has been difficult, for them and their family.

She has two young daughters, aged two and four, and admits it is sometimes hard for them to understand their big sister’s behaviour, although they are beginning to come to terms with it better.

Emma said: “I fear Molly won’t ever be accepted. It is a hereditary condition and I wonder am I going to have to go through this again.”

Should she go through it again, Emma and Rob know they have Tourette’s Action with them to help.

Emma, who lives in Langford, is a choir instructor and in mid-December three of the groups she is involved with came together for a special charity concert at Sidcot School.

Weston Super Singers, Winscombe Community Choir and Winscombe School Choir performed a selection of Christmas carols in aid of Tourette’s Action and more than £1,100 was raised.

Emma is full of praise for the support the charity afforded to them in their hour of need and hopes this Christmas time people will take Molly’s story to heart and remember that Tourette’s is no laughing matter.

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