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Understanding Tourette syndrome and how to eliminate the stigma

Three men wearing headphones sit at a table in a radio talk studio: a man back left has short brown hair and is wearing a light purple button-down shirt; a man back center is wearing a grey baseball cap with an orange logo, glasses, a blue blazer and a grey button-down shirt; a man at right has short dark hair and is wearing a red polo shirt with blue and green plaid cuffs and collar, and jeans.
Gary Pudup
Dr. Peter Morrison and Kyle Semmel on "Connections with Evan Dawson" on Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Local author Kyle Semmel is no stranger to publishing work, but a recent piece for Huffington Post took him out of his comfort zone.

Semmel says throughout his childhood and adulthood, he has worked to hide vocal and motor tics characteristic of Tourette syndrome (TS). As a kid, he wasn’t familiar with the condition, and neither was his family. It wasn’t until adulthood—when a severe bout of tics led him to rear-end a car—that he received an official diagnosis.

According to the CDC, about 1 million Americans have Tourette syndrome or another tic disorder. Semmel says he doesn’t want other people to experience the shame and humiliation he has felt as he has tried to suppress tics throughout his life. His goal is to help normalize TS by talking and writing about it.

This hour, our guests share their stories as we discuss what TS is and how to eliminate the stigma.

In studio:

  • Kyle Semmel, local author and translator, and Tourette syndrome patient
  • Peter Morrison, D.O., assistant professor in the Department of Neurology, Movement Disorders, at UR Medicine; and Tourette Syndrome patient
Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.