Jess Thom dresses like a superhero. Mask, shiny blue cape, the whole bit.
She calls her alter ego Tourette’s Hero.
Whether dressed as Tourette’s Hero or as herself, Thom speaks with an impressive array of verbal tics. She says biscuit a lot.
“Tourette’s is a condition that waxes and wanes BISCUIT,” says Thom. “So it changes over the course of somebody’s BISCUIT life.”
Thom is 31. She remembers having tics as early as age six, though she wasn’t diagnosed with Tourette's until she was in her 20s. The tics are more severe these days.
Tics can “change over the course of a day (HAPPY BIRTHDAY)," she says.
Happy birthday is another of Thom’s regular tics.
And then there are the rude things that pop out. Thom is among the 10 percent of people with Tourette’s who exhibit Coprolalia, the involuntary blurting out of taboo language: swearwords, body parts etc.
Whether taboo or not, Thom’s tics are often very funny. There’s a reason, after all, there are so many jokes about Tourette’s.
Thom welcomes the jokes. In fact, she likes to own them. Hence her website, Touretteshero.com.
The point of Touretteshero, Thom says is to “celebrate the creativity and humor of Tourette’s, and to reclaim the laughter associated with Tourette’s.”
And Touretteshero isn’t a website just for people with Tourette’s. It’s for everybody. Though be warned: it may not be appropriate for young children or those offended by strong language.
On the site, Thom posts tics that she has said in the past two years. She invites people to vote for their favorites.
Batman Breastfed my Mum
I Love You Chemical Weapon
Lucy in the Sky with Pencils
People can also submit artwork to illustrate them.
Thom delights in the poetry of her Tourette’s. Her condition, she says, opens doors. Her tic-filled conversations take her and others to unique places. And the website is part of that conversation.
Touretteshero, she believes, is part of greater movement among disabled people to change attitudes towards disability by means of humor and creativity.
Biscuit. Happy birthday.