This is USA goalie Tim Howard in action during one of the most watched sporting events around. The World Cup star is being admired for more than his skills on the field.
At the age of nine, Howard (a New Jersey native) began experiencing facial tics when he was anxious, and that led to obsessive-compulsive behaviors, like always putting his clothing on in the same way. With adolescence, from the ages of nine to 15, the tics came in waves that Howard described as “this chaos of different tics, and they were pretty strong.” Tim Howard was living with Tourette’s — a condition that causes a person to make repeated, quick movements or sounds that they cannot control.
Tim’s mother saw soccer as a positive outlet for her son. “I believe there’s a certain yin and yang to things,” she said. “If you have a disorder like this, then you also have a gift that you’ve been given and you just try to learn what it is. Soccer was Tim’s gift. It provided an escape from Tourette’s — it absorbed that energy.”
Howard started playing soccer as a way to work through the tics that affect him. He does not hide his Tourette’s, explaining that his disease affects him with uncontrollable physical movements, not the more known “swearing” effect that less than 10% of sufferers have, but that most people associate with the disease.
Howard feels that it is important to let children know that you can have Tourette’s and still reach goals saying “I see myself as a positive example that Tourette syndrome does not have to be an illness. It’s just a condition, which still allows anyone to fulfill their dreams.”