Social Media Column: Tweets get people talking about Tourettes

Published in the June 25, 2013 issue of The Edmonton Sun.

Linda’s social media column can be found every Tuesday in the Edmonton Sun.

Tweets get people talking about Tourettes

Roberto Padron’s son Sebastian was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome late last year.

For years before the diagnosis, Padron says his 11-year-old boy was having a number of problems and the family just wasn’t sure what was wrong, so they got him tested.

“It basically changed the whole outlook of how we saw what he was doing and how he was behaving and the impact it was having on him,” Padron says.

Padron is one of nearly 9,000 people who took part in Surrender Your Say, a social campaign by the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada, which ran last week.

By authorizing an app or ‘surrendering your say,’ random tweets were posted through your Twitter account for a 24-hour period.

Those living with Tourettes suffer from involuntary twitches and vocal outbursts known as tics.

The tweets are meant to mimic those outbursts in an effort to raise awareness about the disorder.

Tweets like “wave your eyelashes at a peanut butter sandwich,” “you’re the kidney…kidney,” and “quack-a-diddler” were among those posted to Padron and thousands of others’ Twitter pages.

“Imagine if you tweeted something embarrassing, offensive, or just plain weird — and you had no control over it,” the project’s home page reads. “That’s what it’s like to have Tourette Syndrome.”

The collective tweets reached nearly 4 million people – and got people talking about Tourettes.

“I was able to go into the hashtag that they had and see all the people who were just commenting on it, not necessarily getting their tweets taken over but actually commenting on it,” Padron says.

I think this was a brilliant social campaign that smartly utilized Twitter to spark an online conversation about a disorder that’s not often discussed.

I found myself talking about the project and Tourettes with several people on and offline.

Of course the tweets can’t truly show someone what it’s like to live with Tourette Syndrome – it’s not like those with Tourettes can just delete their tics if something gets too embarrassing or inappropriate.

But it does a great job getting people to be a little more aware and more understanding of the disorder.

For Padron, participating in Surrender Your Say allowed him to connect with his son in a very special way.

“We actually sat there and we went through all the tweets,” he says.

“It just opened up a lot of doors for my son in being able to communicate with him. We had that communication already but it was something like ‘hey son look what I’m doing’ and basically I’m doing it for him and it was a really good bonding moment for the both of us.”

Surrender Your Say is now over, but you can check out the tweets and attention it garnered by looking up #SurrenderYourSay on Twitter, or heading to

Some Tweets of the Week

@PhotosWithAsh: Riding the train back home and I must say, #yeg, you have some gorgeous people. I’m surrounded by stunners.

@KrissyED: The mosquito that just landed on me had fur. Ummm. #yeg #theyaremorphing #possibleworldtakeover

@MsSchif_dD: So I thought it was just downtown but nope. #yegtraffic is cray-cray everywhere. Noted. It is summer in the city after all. :)

@_stevenco: The Henday is #yeg’s greatest invention of all time. #wembeforethreesongsfinish #mylongesthashtagever

Click here to read the column on the Edmonton Sun website!

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