A dad-of-three living with Tourette’s syndrome has become a social media star after sharing the reality of what parenthood is like when you have the often embarrassing condition.
Glen Cooney, 40, from Guernsey, who developed Tourette’s syndrome aged ten after the tragic death of his cousin, decided to share videos on Tiktok of the black comedy that is family life with wife Helen, 43, and children Emma, 25, Daniel, eight, and Olly, five.
His videos have gained more than 130,000 followers and document how Tourette’s affects his daily life – including dealing with tics such as shouting ‘Coronavirus’ while out in the supermarket and copying other people’s accents.
Glen says he decided to start filming himself with his children to show that having Tourette’s doesn’t stop him from being a great dad.
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Dad-of-three Glen Cooney, 40, from Guernsey on the Channel Islands, first developed Tourette’s syndrome aged ten, following the death of his cousin. Despite online critics saying he ‘shouldn’t be a dad’, Glen has become a huge TikTok star with his videos showing the realities of his condition
One of his most popular videos sees him attempting to make trifle – but finding it impossible to resist throwing the ingredients at both himself and his son Daniel, eight
Glen looks down at the hand that he’s just put in the bowl of custard as his tics dominate the trifle making session at his home in the Channel Islands
Since launching his channel just four weeks ago, he’s already hit 100,000 followers and has had millions of views, while also connecting with other people who suffer with the syndrome from all over the world.
He said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘My children find it quite funny, they’re not old enough to completely understand it and can’t help but laugh when I mimic accents of people I hear in supermarkets. We have been for a curry before and as soon as sat down I started talking with an Indian accent.
‘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 honest as I can.
Sweet revenge: The family have celebrated having 100,000 followers on Tiktok after their videos were a huge success on the social media platform – despite receiving negative comments from some
Watch that egg! Dad Glen says his tics can happen at any time and he’s recently been shouting ‘coronavirus’ in supermarkets
Glen says he hopes that his videos will ‘normalise the condition’. Pictured: Glen’s daughter Emma (centre) and Glen’s two youngest children, Olly, left, and Daniel, right
WHAT IS TOURETTE’S SYNDROME?
Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological condition characterised by a combination of involuntary noises and movements called tics.
It usually starts during childhood and continues into adulthood. Tics can be either be vocal or physical.
In many cases Tourette’s syndrome runs in families and it’s often associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Tourette’s syndrome is named after the French doctor, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first described the syndrome and its symptoms in the 19th century.
There’s no cure for Tourette’s syndrome, but treatment can help to control the symptoms.
Source: NHS Choices
A video of himself trying to make a trifle with young son Daniel has proved one of his most popular with cooking often problematic because Glen will ‘spend an hour making dinner and then throw it over my head.’
In the short clip, he’s seen splattering his son and the kitchen wall with custard before putting a dollop of cream from the dessert’s topping on his own forehead.
He explained: ‘When I look back at the videos they make me laugh so much, my kids are in stitches too, we’ll try and make a cake and whisk the mixture then I’ll pour it on my head.’
He is aware that he can cause upset with the tics, and says it’s often worse in public places.
‘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.
‘I even copy accents, if I hear someone with a different accent and will mimic it sarcastically, but it’s never malicious’.
The doting dad says he’s ‘learned to accept’ saying embarrassing things is just part of who he is
‘I think seeing my two boys in stitches when we cook, play and read together proves that Tourette’s is not something that can stop you from being a good dad,’ says Glen
He admits his sons (Olly as a baby with big brother Daniel) sometimes can’t help but laugh at their father’s condition and the tics it causes
‘Making these videos seems to be helping people, and that in turn helps me, and even my kids to understand what I go through.
‘They know it’s not just their dad that does it, that there are millions of people doing the same thing.’
Glen started making his TikTok videos a month ago because he was tired of people saying the symptoms of the syndrome are fake.
Two of his children feature in the videos and as a result viewers get to see the adorable bond between them, and how they cope with the condition that he has suffered with since he was 10.
‘My cousin died and that’s where my Tourette’s journey started, it can happen to anyone, and usually comes on after a traumatic incident.’
I think seeing my two boys in stitches when we cook, play and read together proves that Tourette’s is not something that can stop you from being a good dad…
Shortly after making his first TikTok video, he was astounded to see a comment telling him he should never have had children because of his behaviour.
Glen, said: ‘I saw the comment and was of course annoyed with it, so I filmed a response showing just how good our family deals with it.
‘I think seeing my two boys in stitches when we cook, play and read together proves that Tourette’s is not something that can stop you from being a good dad.
Now, Glen is continuing his work on TikTok and is aiming to get as much positive awareness out on the condition as he can.
He is even in talks with a friend of his who has a speech impediment.
He said: ‘I think we could make some great videos together, for me it’s all about normalising the condition that individuals have.
‘I’m going to keep it up, grow my followers and hopefully show the world that this condition isn’t stopping me from living a full life, and it shouldn’t stop anyone else going through the same thing.’