Young Milton Keynes woman with Tourette's reacts with anger to Channel 4 documentary that 'links tics to TikTok'

A woman who says her life is ruined by Tourette’s syndrome has blasted the recent Channel 4 documentary on the subject.

By Sally Murrer
Monday, 25th July 2022, 4:12 pm
Updated Monday, 25th July 2022, 7:35 pm

Leeanne Reed, 21, is one of many people to criticise Britain’s Tourette’s Mystery: Scarlett Moffatt Investigates, which was screened last week.

"I’m furious because some people are now going round thinking tics are contagious and you can catch them by watching TikTok. That is totally wrong,” she said.

Former Gogglebox star Scarletts has experienced facial tics since the age of 12 and says the scariest part for her is not being able to find answers.

Leeanne Reed has spoken out about her life with Tourette's syndrome

She was shown interviewing a neurologist who blamed social media for exacerbating the outbreak of Tourette's, saying drawing attention to tics and recording them on platforms such as TikTok is the exact opposite of medical advice and could affect and shape young minds.

Scarlett said on the show: "In the last 18 months there has been an explosion of ticks suddenly appearing amongst young people, but why has it happened now and why is it affecting so many young people?

"I'm on a mission to try and find out if this has been magnified by Covid and lockdown, if it's now become contagious and if social media is part of the problem."

The Channel 4 show received mixed reactions. Some Twitter users echoed Leanne’s words, saying: "From someone who suffers with Tourette's, please believe me when I tell you, Tourette's syndrome isn't contagious."

Scarlett Moffatt

Leeanne, who lives on Glebe Farm, struggles to cope with her tics, which cause her to shout involuntary words and physically strike herself and sometimes other people.

"It’s embarrassing enough anyway and I tend to avoid going out or meeting new people. This documentary has just made me feel worse,” she said.

"I shout really bad things out. I was at CMK station once and I shouted ‘Bomb’. Then once I was talking to an ambulance crew and I told them I had a child’s body in my freezer… I don’t know where these things come from. There’s no warning – the words just come out of my mouth and I can’t control it. The more I try to control the tics, the worse they get.”

"Strangers laugh at me when I get a tic. I’d rather they laugh than have a go at me, but it’s still horrible.

"Sometimes I hit out physically, at myself or at other people. It makes me not want to go out and it’s depressing.”

Leeanne has an assistance dog to help her and also takes Clonidine, a sedative, to help to reduce the severity of the tics. But they still happen almost constantly.

"It’s exhausting,” she said. “My body is moving non stop with the physical tics. It makes it difficult for me to work or do any normal things that a 21-year-old would do.”

She has videoed her own tics and publishes them on social media in a bid to help other people with Tourette’s.

"I just want people to know that Tourette’s is not contagious and you can’t catch it from watching videos of people with tics...All I want is for people to understand me and to accept me for how I am.”

More information is on the Tourette’s Action charity website.