Monday, May 18, 2015

Another Tourette tale

The day before the race in Charlotte, her father, Mike, an Air Force pilot, picked her up as if she were a little girl and carried her up 17 flights of stairs because she was too terrified to get inside the elevator at their hotel. All closed spaces paralyze her with anxiety and fear: her face goes flush, her heart races, her whole body becomes hot. The first time she encountered the hotel elevator, she took the stairs and wore herself out. The second time, her father wouldn’t let her exhaust herself before the race. As he climbed, he held her close while she cracked jokes and tried to get her heart to slow down.

A couple months later, Amaris’ mother, Kristen, explained how someone so unnaturally talented could also be so fragile. Kristen is perceptive and protective of her children, and she’s had plenty of reason to think about the struggle between Amaris’ body and brain. “When she runs,” Kristen says, “I think she’s running from disorder.”

When Amaris was three years old, her parents would sometimes find her lying on the floor, face up and stiff, the muscles in her body clenched all at once. Her eyes would be wide open and focused to one side; her face would be red from holding her breath. Then, after a few minutes, she’d get up and continue playing as if nothing had happened.



  1. Now 61, Peete barely plays anymore, having retired from competitive golf in the spring of 2001 after eight winless and frustrating seasons on the senior tour. He blames his early departure from the game on a debilitating and often embarrassing battle with Tourette's syndrome, the inherited neurological disorder that affects an estimated 100,000 Americans.

    It wasn't until 1999 that Peete was diagnosed with Tourette's, but Dr. Siong-chi Lin, the psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville who made the diagnosis, says the disease has affected Calvin for much of his life. "He actually had the neck jerking ever since he was a kid," Dr. Lin says.

    Peete also would make noises when he got into stressful situations, often by putting his tongue to the roof of his mouth. "It's an involuntary kind of thing," Lin says. "Sometimes he would be under stress playing golf and would have to walk away because he couldn't stop himself from making those sounds."

    Also cited in 5/17/15 comment to A Tourette Tale 4/11/15.

  2. Reality: