There’s a new superhero entering the comic book world and she’s a teenage girl with Tourette syndrome. “Twitcha” is the brainchild of three teenage girls who illustrated and wrote the book based on their own experiences with the neurological disorder. NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS) published the book this spring.
During the summer of 2017, Sarah Baldwin of Mantua, New Jersey, Mary Gregorian of Smithtown, and Julie Nemerson of Northbrook, Illinois, attended the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy at Rutgers University.
The academy is a four-day training for high school students that promotes self-advocacy, self-leadership, resilience and grit — all important skills to succeed while living with TS. As part of the academy, each teen completes a group project. Together the teens dreamed up a superhero that would be living with Tourette syndrome and facing the same struggles that they were, both emotionally and physically.
“We spent hours each night in the dorms at Rutgers trying to create a character and a story that would empower other kids with TS,” said Gregorian who is a rising junior at Long Island University–Post. “It’s wonderful that our dream was able to take off into a reality.”
Twitcha’s tics are represented by the villain-turned-hero Misfire, who teams up with Dr. Sitstill to destroy anyone who wouldn’t conform to his idea of “normal.” But after their defeat, Misfire sees the error of her ways and teams up with Twitcha. The book will be used by NJCTS during Education Outreach presentations to elementary students, and lesson plans will be created so teachers can add “Twitcha” to their curriculum.
“When we saw the first rough copy of ‘Twitcha,’ we loved the message,” said Faith Rice, executive director of NJCTS. “It’s truly a labor of love by three young ladies who understand the pain of stigma and isolation that many of our young people with Tourette syndrome face.”
A digital copy of “Twitcha” is available on Amazon and hard copies are available for classrooms and libraries. Contact NJCTS at email@example.com or 908-575-7350 to request copies or visit www.njcts.org/twitcha.