Over 300,000 people are living with Tourette’s in the UK. Find out more about how to not let it get in the way of your career aspirations.

Understanding Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological condition of the nervous system that causes a person to make involuntary sounds or movements, known as tics. Most people with Tourette’s will also develop co-occurring conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). There is support available to help people suffering from the condition to lead an uninterrupted life.

There is a variety of ways a person with Tourette’s Syndrome can manage the condition:

Medication

Sufferers often use medication to reduce the frequency and intensity of tics and other involuntary movements for a short period.

Behavioural Therapies

These can provide help to sufferers by encouraging them to change the way they think about tics and suggest actions to prevent them.

Neurosurgery

Such trials have been completed in the UK and overseas for treating severe cases of TS, with the use of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) proving successful. However, this treatment is still in its research stages.

Many people will outgrow the majority of TS symptoms, and find their tics become less intense and frequent as they mature. Some adults, however, will be forced to live with their symptoms throughout their life, but support is available to help your condition become more manageable at home and in the workplace.

A Career with Tourette’s

With treatment and support managing your Tourette’s condition, it is possible to start or continue building a long and rewarding career, and there are many examples of successful workers with TS in a variety of industries and occupations.

There are no jobs closed off for people with TS and people living with Tourette’s often possess invaluable attributes and bring a positive attitude to the working environment.

Career Choice

You may decide on a career immediately after leaving education, or it may be as a result of spending time rethinking your plans. Whichever path you choose it is vital to consider your personal situation and the effects working will have on your life. Do your research into the industry and try speaking with existing members of staff to find out about their own experiences.

Job Searching

Searching for a new job can be difficult, particularly in the current economic climate, however ensure you utilise free help and guidance from places like your local Jobcentre. They can provide you with a careers coach who can help you find appropriate employers and opportunities in the right industry.

The Jobcentre Plus will also help you access government schemes such as Access to Work, which will cover the cost of any reasonable adjustments you might need for your workplace.

Interviews

The stress and anxiety of an interview can exacerbate some of your symptoms, however employers have a responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all applicants. It is your chance to show a prospective employer your skillset and prove you deserve it over other candidates.

Prepare as much as you can to relieve some feelings of stress, and it is a good idea to practice questions with a family member or friend. For more tips on the application process, such as writing a CV and cover letter, see our document library.

Employing people living with Tourette’s

Employees with TS are often aware of what their needs are and what can aggravate their symptoms, so accommodating is often as simple as just asking the employee what they may need.

The necessary support for each person will vary on the severity of their condition and their job role. Therefore, having an open conversation with them is vital to ensure they can manage their workload.

Some general tips on how to work with employees with TS are:

  • Provide clear instructions, preferably both verbally and in written form
  • Ensure the staff member is not put under excessive pressures or overloaded with work
  • Provide a workplace free from distractions
  • Encourage staff to discuss and develop different ways of working with each other
  • Offer training or support sessions for staff to further their understanding of neurological conditions

A number of these tips will not only apply for staff diagnosed with a neurological disorder such a TS but also apply to your workforce as a whole.

As TS is a disability, the Equality Act 2010 protects all your employees living with TS. This protects them from any form of discrimination due to their condition.

There is more information on bully and harassment in the workplace on the government’s website.

If you are living with TS, you should read about your rights at work, and see if there are any other grants and schemes available to you.