A father-of-three, who was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome during his childhood, has become an unlikely hero on TikTok after sharing videos documenting the realities of juggling parenting whilst living with the condition.
Glen Cooney, from Guernsey on the Channel Islands, shares three children – Emma, 25, Daniel, eight, and Olly, five – with his wife Helen, 43. He developed Tourette’s syndrome aged ten after the tragic death of his cousin, and has since decided to show how Tourette’s affects his daily life.
The 40-year-old has become a breakout star on the social media platform, racking up over 250,000 followers in just under one month, and has garnered interest from across the globe thanks to his daily videos featuring himself splatting his son with custard while baking along with shouting ‘coronavirus’ during a trip to the supermarket.
Tourette’s syndrome (TS) is a condition that causes a person to make involuntary sounds and movements called tics. It usually starts during childhood, but the tics and other symptoms usually improve after several years and sometimes go away completely. According to Tourettes Action, it is estimated that TS affects one school child in every hundred and more than 300,000 children and adults in the UK live with the condition.
Opening up about his condition, Glen explained that he’s trying to live his life as openly and as honestly as he can.
“My most recent tic is fake sneezing and shouting ‘coronavirus’ in supermarkets, it happens and when I look up I’m surrounded by people backing away from me,” he told MailOnline.
“I can’t help the verbal and physical tics when they happen, and I haven’t had the condition since birth so I have been learning how to live with it. Sometimes I see bald people with lots of facial hair, look up and shout “your head is upside down” while pointing at them.”
‘It can get really embarrassing sometimes but over time I have learnt to accept the things I can’t control and try to live my life as openly and honestly as I can.”
Glen added that he hopes his videos help people living with Tourette’s along with breaking down the stigma attached to the condition, and said his tics are “never malicious”.
“Sometimes I come home and wonder what on earth I have done because outdoor stimulation really sets me off. Not long ago there was a guy that I swore at really loudly, he looked at me like I broke his heart. I always try to explain why I have done it if I have a tic, and often people will listen, but the problem is that it’s not subtle. I’m loud and will laugh loud.”
He continued: “I even copy accents, if I hear someone with a different accent I will mimic it sarcastically, but it’s never malicious.”
He is currently raising money for Tourettes Action – a charity helping people with Tourette Syndrome receive the practical support and social acceptance they need to help them live their lives to the full. Next month, Glen is undertaking a series of solo fundraising events starting with a 27-mile walk around Guernsey on Sunday November 1st.
“It will be difficult, not only because of the distance, but because of all of the outdoor stimulation – there’s so much to see and hear it can be a real challenge,” he told Guernsey Press.
To donate to Glen’s fundraising appeal, click here.