TSAA research reveals only 28% of people with Tourette Syndrome (TS) describe their encounters with first responders as positive, while 39% say their experiences with first responders have been stressful. With misconceptions and misunderstandings about TS being a driving factor, the TS community are calling for more education to improve understanding and better the relationships between people with TS and first responders to ensure that harmful interactions with first responders are avoided.
Misconceptions about TS are rife among the general public, but worryingly this also applies to first responders such as police, paramedics, firefighters, and state emergency service workers. While first responders do an excellent job at keeping the population safe, sadly the research shows people living with TS have a shockingly different experience with 24% of people with TS having had a negative experience with a paramedic and 29% having had a negative experience with police.
There is still limited understanding about TS amongst the wider population too, with 49% of people in the TS community saying members of the public stare at them, while 62% say people seem unsure on how to respond to tics. Additionally, a third (32%) of Australians have made assumptions about someone exhibiting tic’ing behaviour.
The data reveals that the experiences of the TS community compared with the general population differ dramatically, with 14% of the TS community describing their experiences with first responders as traumatic, while another 14% described their experiences as shameful. This is a vast contrast to the majority of Australians (96%) who describe their overall experiences with first responders as positive.
Concerningly, one in five (20%) first responders confused tic’ing behaviour with being on drugs, while almost a third (29%) confused tics with erratic or violent behaviour. Such misunderstandings regarding tics have resulted in 12% of people with TS saying they felt they were treated like a criminal for tic’ing.
First Responders can download our free toolkit for information and guideance to assist them in their interactions with people with TS, and improve these outcomes.