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Living with Tourette Syndrome: Peter Yang Zhao Ep 129

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

May 15 to June 15th is Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month. Tourette Syndrome is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence. According to the Tourette Association of America 1 out of every 160 children between the ages of 5-17 in the United States has Tourette Syndrome and 1 out of every 100 children has Tourette Syndrome or another Tic Disorder.

In doing research for this interview, I visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Tourette Association of America websites. On these websites, I noticed that resources for children with Tourette Syndrome and their parents to deal with bullying were prominently displayed. It’s an important reminder that there needs to be more awareness, tolerance and understanding of Tourette Syndrome, but not just in childhood but in society in general, amongst people of all ages.

My guest on this episode of Talking Taiwan is Tourette Activist, Peter Yang Zhao who we’ve had on previous episodes with Sergeant Steven Lee to talk about the topic of Asian hate. In this in-depth interview, Peter explains what living with Tourette Syndrome is like, how he got diagnosed, and speaks frankly about the challenges he’s had to overcome as a Touretter, and how he advocates for more awareness of Tourette Syndrome.

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • Peter’s connection to Taiwan
  • Georges Gilles de la Tourette
  • What is Tourette Syndrome
  • Coprolalia
  • The Tourette Syndrome iceberg
  • People with Tourette Syndrome are often affected by another co-occurring condition like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Depression
  • The connection between OCD and Tourette Syndrome
  • How Peter’s mother dealt with his Tourette Syndrome
  • Peter’s evolution of vocal tics and how he changed his vocal tics over years
  • How Peter was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome
  • How tics can change over time
  • Cognitive behavior training
  • Peter’s first tic which appeared at 8 years old
  • The stress Peter experienced while being bullied at school
  • The reflexology treatment that Peter initially received to treat his Tourette Syndrome
  • How Peter had to fight other students at school to defend himself and stop  the bullying
  • What happened when Peter started taking an antipsychotic drug (pimozide) to control his tics
  • Coprographia
  • How Peter’s mother and doctors reacted to his complaints of increased intrusive thoughts
  • The physical and mental addiction that Peter developed to the drug
  • How tics are triggered
  • How Peter’s only escape from his intrusive thoughts was to sleep
  • How Peter started having suicidal thoughts
  • How Peter decided to stop taking the antipsychotic drug
  • What happened when Peter quit taking the drug
  • How Peter’s tics are seasonal
  • Tourette Association of America which is located in Bayside, NY
  • How Peter didn’t want to have kids because he was afraid of passing along the genes for Tourette Syndrome
  • Tourette’s Facebook support groups
  • How Peter was interviewed for the Tourette Syndrome podcast
  • #7DaysOfTourettes movement
  • The article Peter wrote about Ted Cruz’s tweet about Tourette Syndrome

Related Links:

Georges Gilles de la Tourette:


John Hopkins Medicine: What causes Tourette Syndrome and How Tourette Syndrome can occur differently in boys and girls:,gene%20on%20to%20each%20child.

Tourette Association of America:

CDC data and statistics on Tourette Syndrome:

Dr. Arthur K. Shapiro:

Twitch and Shout: A Touretter’s Tale by Lowell Handler:



Jumaane Williams:

Jumaane Williams talks about Tourette Syndrome:

Tourette’s Podcast group on Facebook

Tic and Tourette’s support page

Tourette’s Syndrome support group

Tourette’s Podcast page

Asian In New York:

The Sunflower Movement: note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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