We can all agree that movie spoilers suck, especially for big movie events like Avengers Endgame, but what happens when the spoiler is not being able to watch the movie at all. Emily Womack, a fifteen year old from Duncan, Oklahoma, went to see Avengers Endgame opening weekend and was asked to leave before the movie even began. During the previews, Emily, who has Tourette Syndrome, began experiencing tics and was asked to leave the theater by AMC Theatres employees.
People with Tourette Syndrome have long been misunderstood and mocked for their symptoms and The Tourette Association of America (TAA) are trying to increase social acceptance and tolerance. Emily’s mother, Tina Womack, stated, “Unfortunately this incident wasn’t out of the ordinary for us. Normal, everyday things like shopping, eating out become tasks with potential frustrations like staring, giggling, and whispers. The most hurtful thing, for Emily, is when adults call her names. Some have gone as far as to suggest that there was a crow or some other loud squawking bird loose in the store. We hope that sharing Emily’s experience will open a dialogue about Tourette’s and bring some awareness for everyone who has been through similar experiences.” The TAA and the Womack Family have offered to train AMC employees to ensure that those with Tourette Syndrome do not have to give up the joy of seeing movies. You can hear Emily’s story directly from her in a video she posted on her Facebook.
This is especially timely as May 15-June 15 is Tourette Awareness Month. The TAA is asking people to take a pledge to not use Tourette as a punchline, descriptor or slur: tourettepledge.org, during this period. For those who don’t know much about Tourette Syndrome here are some brief facts to help you understand a little bit more about it:
- Tourette Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by sudden, involuntary movements and/or sounds called tics. They can include eye blinking, head jerking and facial movements — throat clearing, sniffing and tongue clicking.
- The involuntary utterance of obscene words is called coprolalia, and it’s much rarer than people think: Only 10 percent of people diagnosed with Tourette experience these symptoms.
- There is no cure for Tourette. The cause also remains unknown, but it is thought to involve genetic, neurological and environmental factors that can be treated.
- Tourette is underdiagnosed. Many children, parents, teachers and even physicians don’t fully understand TS, which can lead to bullying, a lack of community support, an improper diagnosis and a host of other issues that impair the quality of life for someone with TS.
To celebrate Tourette Awareness Month The TAA is hosting a 2019 Awareness 5K Run/Walk on Sunday, May 19 at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York. Funds raised will benefit research, support necessary programs, and foster social acceptance of Tourette. The event will features co-emcees Gardiner Comfort and Chelsea White, with Jumanne Williams, a New York City Politician and community activist who has Tourette and recently had a viral video breaking down mental health stigmas. Other guests include Esha Alwani and Jack Kearney. President and CEO of the Tourette Association, Amanda Talty, said “We are committed to raising awareness and fostering social acceptance of Tourette, which affects 1 in every 100 school-aged children. We want people to see the Tourette community beyond their tics. They are diverse and talented and bring incredible gifts as students, leaders, parents, teachers, actors, musicians, athletes and so much more.” You can register for the race day of at 7 am or you can register now online. You can find out more about The TAA on their official website.