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'TS doesn't interfere with my life any more'

College graduate Rachel Maguire (22) was diagnosed with TS while in sixth year of secondary school. It was when watching 'The Late Late Show' one evening that herself and her mother realised that the symptoms displayed by a TS sufferer on the show were similar to Rachel's.

"I went through school knowing I did these weird things but it wasn't diagnosed. That made it easier in one way, in that I didn't label myself with a condition, but it also made it harder at times as I'd have to hide it a lot.

"I don't suffer from the swearing type of TS. But I had a cough and throat clearing that was almost like a bark. I also had tics that caused me to move my neck.

"I'd have to ask to leave the classroom and then I'd go and tic in the toilets because I didn't want to do it in front of people.

"People would comment sometimes and I was teased a bit but I was never bullied. The hardest time was when I was diagnosed. It came as a bit of a shock to know that I had something.

"Now they don't interfere with my life. They are worst when I have to sit still, such as on the Dart when it's winter and all the windows are shut and there's not much space.

"Parents of newly diagnosed children are often relieved to hear my story. It gives them hope that their child can hopefully live a normal life, although I am lucky in that my TS is not as severe as some cases.

"Having said that, there's not a day that goes by when I don't tic -- it's just part of me and I would rather not have it but, equally, it's never held me back."

For more information

• TS Ireland -- www.tsireland.ie

• 'Why do you do that? A book about Tourette Syndrome for Children and Young People' by Uttom Chowdhury and Mary Robertson

• 'Tics and Tourette Syndrome, A Handbook for Parents and Professionals' by Uttom Chowdhury

Health & Living