Managing Tourette’s Syndrome through sports and will-power: The story of USA and Everton FC’s goalkeeper, Tim Howard

Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurological condition that is characterised by nervous, involuntary tics, which can manifest in several forms. People who have Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) may display sudden muscle twitches such as rapid blinking, twisting of their limbs, or sometimes, hitting themselves. Some have verbal tics, such as repetitive utterances of words, meaningless sounds or at times, swearing. I should point out that only about 5-10% of people with TS actually have ‘swearing tics’, despite the widely held belief that all of them do. One can only imagine how challenging everyday life must be for these people.

One of the people who can overcome his tics is Everton FC and American International goalkeeper Tim Howrard. Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome at the age of 9, Howard has not let his condition get in the way of his passion for sports. He excelled at basketball and football (soccer). In one of his interviews, he said that he suppresses his tics through sheer willpower and determination- a tactic proven to have worked for him throughout his successful professional career. Howard, now playing for Everton FC, have played for four professional football teams including Manchester United. He has also played over 72 games for USA.

Here are some of his career highlights:

Here he is, scoring the farthest ever goal in football history:

I should emphasise that Tourette’s Syndrome manifests in different ways. The type and severity of tics vary from one person to another. Additionally, one person (like Howard) may be able to suppress his or her tics whilst another may not. Nevertheless, Tim Howard’s story once again shows how a diagnosis is not the end of everything.

For more information on Tourette’s Syndrome, click the links below:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Tourette’s Action UK

NHS webpage for Tourette’s

People with disabilities, not disabilities with people

Inspiring people with ADHD:

Michael Phelps

Inspiring People with Autism:

Dr. Temple Grandin

Jessica-Jane Applegate (British Paralympian)

Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon creator)


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