Meet the father and son living with Tourette Syndrome.

Growing up, Duncan Whitcombe had never met anyone else with Tourette Syndrome. Diagnosed at the age of 10, he had no one to turn to, no one who could understand what it was like to be compelled to tic.

Today, he has his son.

Duncan’s little boy Bailey also has the condition, which for him manifests in a series of grunting sounds, plus throat clearing and fidgeting movements.

“When we first thought that Bailey had Tourette I was in denial … because I didn’t want him to go through some of the negative things I went through,” Duncan told SBS’s The Feed.

The young boy admits his condition frustrates him sometimes and that people can be unsympathetic and cruel, but says his special connection with his Dad helps him to feel comfortable with who he is.

“We both understand each other,” Bailey said. “It’s a like a tiny puzzle that only needs two pieces.”

father and son with tourette syndrome
Duncan and Bailey have a special connection. Image: SBS.

The primary school student is typical of most Tourette sufferers in that he has also received a number of associated diagnoses.

He is one of the 85 per cent to also have ADHD, for example, and also has anxiety, OCD and high functioning Autism Spectrum disorder.

But there are benefits to having the condition, too. Both Bailey and Duncan have a heightened sense of smell, and Duncan has a semi-Eidetic memory, which means he can remember something from every single day of his life since he was 18 months old.


All they ask is that people are understanding of the rest.

"They just have to go with the flow," Bailey said. "We are making a little noise, sometimes a little movement. It can do that much harm - deal with it. We can't help it."

father and son with tourette syndrome
Image: Facebook.

A place Bailey has found that understanding is at Camp Tourette, an annual event for young Australians with the condition.

It costs roughly $30,000 a year for the organisers to run the camp, so Bailey's mother, Trudy, has organised a charity motorcycle ride to aid the cause.

"The importance for me of seeing the camp continuing is that Bailey and other children like him have a safe place to go to they feel like they belong and they fit in," she told The Feed.

But the ride is more than just a fundraising exercise.

"I think greater awareness in the community would help with a lot of acceptance," she said. That instead of people staring and going, 'What the hell is wrong with that kid?', they'll go, 'You know what, he's probably got a tic. It's probably Tourette Syndrome."

To find out more about Tourette visit the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia website here. To donate to The Ticnic Ride for Tourettes visit the Facebook page here.

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