Camp to relieve isolation of children with Tourette's

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2014
analise twemlow
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
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Analise Twemlow struggles to make friends.

She loves playing the drums, drama and going to school. The 10-year-old is stared at by strangers and ostracised by her peers.

Every day is difficult. Analise suffers from Tourette Syndrome. Sometimes she shouts, other times she hits herself in the face or throws things without warning.

She has hurt herself and others.

She tics constantly, and is lonely.

This year, Analise will finally get to spend time with other children who have Tourette's.

For once, she won't be alone in her symptoms. She won't be stared at and she won't be left out.

Analise's mother, Robyn Twemlow, has spent the past year organising a special camp for Tourette's sufferers.

More than 30 people with the condition will come together at Hanmer Springs for a long weekend at Camp Twitch. For most, it will be the first time they have met another person with Tourette's.

"The kids will come away with friends for life," Twemlow said.

"Lots of these kids are seen as antisocial and don't have friends at school. It's teaching them they're not alone, and that there's nothing wrong with being different."

Analise suffers from a serious form of Tourette's, where her tics are almost constant and change all the time.

If she gets worse, her school attendance could be under threat, and she runs the risk of never being able to drive or work.

The syndrome is genetic, although Twemlow was not aware of other Tourette's sufferers in the family.

Analise also suffers from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which contributes to her Tourette's.

She is on medication to help settle her muscles, but there is no cure and nothing will fully suppress it. She will have the condition for life, and her symptoms will likely worsen with age. Despite this, Analise dreams of a career in the movies and smiles a lot. She is most at home on stage, and the focus required to act, reduces her tics.

Camp Twitch is the first of its kind in New Zealand, and funded entirely by fundraising and donations to ensure even low-income sufferers can attend.

Twemlow said the camp needed another $6000 despite constant fundraising efforts.

* To support Camp Twitch, visit tourettes.org.nz or find Camp Twitch on givealittle.co.nz.

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