Soccer Goalie with Tourette Syndrome Gains International ATTENTION as Role Model

      Tim Howard Signs As Goalkeeper for Manchester United


      July 25, 2003 – Bayside, NY – Tim Howard has signed with Manchester United to become goalkeeper for the internationally renowned British soccer team. Howard, who was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (TS) the age of 11, has been a longtime spokesperson and supporter for the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA), and is very open about his condition.

      Howard first decided to make his TS known to the public in 2000, and his frankness was a precious gift to tens of thousands of children who now look up to him and see his success as a positive road map for their future.  His accomplishments have provided these youngsters with an ability to see themselves as productive and worthwhile members of society.

       “We are so excited for Tim and wish him great success in this opportunity of a lifetime,” said Judit Ungar, TSA President. “We look forward to continuing our close relationship with Tim through his ongoing efforts and devotion as a spokesman for the cause. He is a charitable citizen to whom all those—with and without TS—worldwide can look to as a hero and champion.”

      Formerly of the New York/New Jersey MetroStars in America's Major Soccer League, he has been active in creating awareness and fostering education of this much misunderstood neurological disorder. In 2001, he was named Major League Soccer Humanitarian of the Year for his charitable efforts on behalf of TS and continues to work closely with TSA on public service and awareness campaigns and mentoring programs. A native of New Brunswick, New Jersey, he hopes to one day establish his own foundation to raise awareness about this disorder.

      Howard will be honored with the “Champion of Children” Award at TSA’s Annual Awards Dinner at the Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles, California in February 2004. “Just the fact that Tim got through all the obstacles that someone with TS encounters makes him already famous in my eyes,” said Joriel Sharp, 13, winner of the 2001 TSA Outstanding Youth Award. “His success tells the world that those with TS have no limits and help kids like me fight through tough times.”

      “This is probably the most exciting opportunity we have ever had to increase awareness and reduce stigma of the disorder,” said Fred Cook, Chairman of the Board of TSA. “Tim, with his international fame, has the ability to reach people in ways we have not been able to before.”

      Howard’s TS earned more headlines than his goalkeeping in the British press during the months leading to his signing with Manchester United. Some papers presented a distorted view of the disorder, referring to him as “disabled” and as “suffering from the cursing disease.” But Howard never shied away from the negative publicity and passionately confronted these inaccuracies to help dispel the misconceptions and reduce stigma.

      Howard has become strengthened by the courage that TS has developed in him. "People are said to suffer from TS and, while that is certainly true in a lot of cases, I don't feel that way," he said. "I feel it has made me stronger and, if my position means I can be a role model to help other people feel stronger, then it will be a positive experience." When asked about how TS affects him, Tim says, “Tourette's Syndrome is not a problem. It is part of my life. It doesn't affect me one way or another on or off the field My motto on TS is never let it be a stop sign, it’s just a speed bump—another obstacle to overcome.”

      Founded in 1972, the TSA celebrates 31 years of service to the Tourette Syndrome community. As the only national, voluntary health organization for people with TS, the association has a three-pronged mission of education, research and service. TSA has 45+ chapters and more than 300 support groups throughout the country.


      Most people with TS lead productive lives and participate in all professions.

      Increased public understanding and tolerance of TS symptoms are of paramount importance to people with this disorder.

      The disorder was named for a French scientist who successfully assessed the disorder in the late 1800s, Georges Gilles de la Tourette.

      TS is an inherited, neurological disorder characterized by repeated and involuntary body movements (tics) and uncontrollable vocal sounds.

      Involuntary symptoms can include eye blinking, repeated throat clearing or sniffing, arm thrusting, kicking movements, shoulder shrugging or jumping.

      In a minority of cases, (10 to 15 percent) the vocalizations can include socially inappropriate words and phrases—called coprolalia. These outbursts are neither intentional nor purposeful.

      Typically TS symptoms emerge before the age of 18 years and the condition occurs in all ethnic groups.

      Although the symptoms of TS vary from person to person and range from very mild to severe, the majority of cases fall into the mild category.

      Associated conditions can include OCD, ADHD and learning problems.

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      For more information, please contact Tracy Colletti-Flynn, Manager, Public Relations and Communications, by email or at (718) 224-2999, ext. 236.



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