A Warren woman has been battling Tourette syndrome, a nervous system disorder that causes repetitive movements or unwanted sounds, for over 20 years. Now she’s working to help others like her while raising awareness.
It started with uncontrollable movements but after a year of seeing a neurologist, Britney Wolf found some relief. She was diagnosed with Tourette’s at 7 years old.
“It was nice to know that there was an answer and I just remember from then on, my family didn’t make a huge deal about it. They didn’t want me to feel like there was something wrong with me,” Britney said.
Around 138,000 children between the ages of 6 and 17 were diagnosed with Tourette’s in
2012, according to a CDC study.
The sudden movements and sounds are referred to as “tics.” Britney said stressful or emotional days can trigger tics even more, which is why her case has gotten worse with age.
Dealing with the symptoms has been a challenge.
“Whatever body part I’m utilizing is what I’m triggered to tic with, so now that I’m speaking with you, that’s why I’m ticcing with my neck and my mouth because I’m using it,” Britney said. “My brain triggers it. When I walk — there’s been multiple times where my husband and I have been in the grocery store, where I come to a dead stop because my feet start kicking the ground.”
One of the common misconceptions of Tourette syndrome is that it’s all about blurting out swear words. That condition is called Coprolalia and is only found in 10 to 15 percent of people who have Tourette’s.
“People don’t just swear, they yell out other words or other things. It can seem like they are faking it and I understand. It’s a crazy thing to grasp your mind around because an everyday person, you have control over every single thing your body does and it’s weird to think that not only control of your body, but of the words that come out of your mouth,” Britney said.
She may not be able to control the movements, but she can control how she responds.
“I believe I was given it for a reason. I believe that I was strong enough to deal with it, and that I can sit there and be upset every single day but that’s going to ruin the rest of my life,” she said.
Britney’s goal is to help other people going through the same journey and raise awareness to “beat the stigma one tic at a time.”
She’s hosting a 5K and one-mile fun run at Kent State Trumbull on June 8. Britney is hoping to raise $10,000 for the Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation.
Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the race starts at 9 a.m. If you would like to participate, you can register early online.
Britney is also looking for businesses and donors to sponsor the event. You can contact her on Facebook.
To follow Britney’s journey and find resources for Tourette syndrome, check her out on YouTube.
If you would like to donate to the Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation, you can also do that online.