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What Makes Him Tic?

Woodhall Press, 2024
Now available wherever books are sold

When Michele Turk's 11-year-old son Michael was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, she made it her mission to show him, and later others, that he was so much more than the boy who shouted obscenities hundreds of times a day. What Makes Him Tic? A Memoir of Parenting a Child with Tourette Syndrome describes Michele's leave-no-stone-unturned strategy to figure out what Michael needed to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally in a world where Tourette is the punchline of jokes on late-night TV and sitcoms. The memoir also provides ample reporting on Tourette, often referred to as "the most misunderstood well-known condition," and is meant to be a roadmap and inspiration for parents, caregivers, and educators of children with Tourette and other special needs.

More than a medical story, What Makes Him Tic? is a moving portrait of a family, a marriage, and a mother coping with day-to-day life amidst the stresses of caring for a boy with a stigmatizing condition. The book is also a surprising testament to the healing power of music: the memoir takes readers to Carnegie Hall (where Turk was certain she was the only parent ever to sit in the audience and wonder whether her child would curse while signing with a youth chorus onstage. It also takes readers inside bars and music venues where Michael sang, and played drums and guitar, and ultimately, found himself, as part of the School of Rock.

Finally, it takes readers inside a relationship in turmoil, as the author honestly explores the toll Michael's struggle took on her marriage to a doctor who didn't make time to help his son, leaving her, a woman who had doubted her abilities as a mother, to find reserves of strength she didn't know she had.

Praise for What Makes Him Tic?

"This book is a must-read for anyone with Tourette Syndrome."

Brad Cohen, author of Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had

"Music has always been my escape from TS, as well as my gateway into living a 'normal' life with it. Raising a child with a neurodivergent cocktail of TS and Asperger’s, my mom had limited resources and unimaginable obstacles. If only she’d had a firsthand account of another mother’s journey. What Makes Him Tic? is one of those invaluable resources for parents that says, 'You’re not alone.'"


–James Durbin, Musician and American Idol finalist

"We owe it to people with Tourette syndrome to talk about what makes them tic. Michele Turk nails it as she gives the disease a voice and invites us to walk the road with her as well as share in the fascination, beauty, and sorrow that accompany a ‘tic-ing’ life."

–Michael S. Okun, M.D., Neurologist, executive director of the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at University of Florida Health, and author of Tourette Syndrome: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life


"Using her well-honed journalist skill, Michele Turk takes us on her raw, vulnerable, and brave quest to understand and treat her son’s diagnosis, preserve his sense of self, and protect him from mistreatment. While educating us about Tourette Syndrome, What Makes Him Tic? describes the journey and emotional complexity experienced by many parents of neurodiverse children – from fear, worry, stress, grief, and self-doubt to acceptance, hope, joy, and the realization of their child’s unique strengths and gifts. This book will make you a more informed, empathic, and wiser person."


Dan Peters, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Executive Director, Summit Center, California, Author, Make Your Worrier a Warrior; Co-author, Bright, Complex Kids; Host, Parent Footprint with Dr. Dan

"This raw, honest, and brilliantly written encounter with Tourette syndrome offers a rare glimpse into the life of a parent whose child has grown up with the condition. Michele’s firsthand narrative captivates your attention from the very first page and allows you to come face-to-face with what is quite possibly the most misunderstood disability on the planet."

–Aidy Smith, Tourette Association of America Global Ambassador

"This is a truly wonderful resource for families who desperately need a candid, accurate traveler's guide about life parenting a child with Tourette Syndrome. The author describes a fairly typical journey that many parents will recognize, and courageously provides salient details that highlight the myriad of feelings, conflicts, and uncertainties so often experienced along the way. Bravo!"


–Cathy L. Budman, M.D., Director of the Long Island Center for Tourette and Associated Disorders, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Zucker School of Medicine, and an internationally recognized specialist in Tourette syndrome and associated disorders

"What Makes Him Tic? is a lifesaver. Michele Turk is a warm and honest guide who offers both an intimate look at how Tourette affects a family as well as practical resources based on her extensive reporting. This is the book families struggling with Tourette have been waiting for."

–Daisy Florin, author of My Last Innocent Year, a New York Times Editor's Choice in 2023

"Michele Turk brings her considerable skills as a journalist to this deeply personal account of her own and her family’s journey in dealing with her son’s Tourette. She is both wonderfully engaging and bracingly honest in describing the fear and anxiety she dealt with in the years following the onset of Michael’s symptoms, and the toll it took on herself and her marriage. Her account of discovering how to empower her son is a story that any parent of a child with challenges that set them apart from their classmates will identify with."


–Jane Ross, founder and CEO of Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities

Media for What Makes Him Tic?

Parent Footprint with Dr. Dan podcast | May 30, 2024

Listen on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts

Q&A with Michele Turk | Stamford Magazine

Read the feature here.

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