Meet the family with Tourette’s

‘Never a dull moment’ … Epiphanie (front), Yves, Xavier and Persephone Battley. Picture: Facebook Source: Supplied

THERE’S never a dull moment in the Battley household.

Half of the family of six have Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterised by involuntary ‘tics’ and behavioural difficulties.

Dad Andrew Battley, 41, has the condition, along with his daughter Persephone, 10, and son Yves, four.

Wife Melanie Battley, 37, and son Xavier, eight, have not been diagnosed with Tourette’s, but find themselves inadvertently exhibiting the symptoms. Only daughter Epiphanie, six, remains unaffected.

Mrs Battley said the family’s physical tics can be set off by simple things like watching television or going to bed, and can be incredibly draining.

“Persephone has problems sleeping. She gets anxious about going to bed,” Mrs Battley, from Cornwall in the UK, told The Mirror.

“She thinks she won’t be able to sleep or that she won’t wake up, which sets off her tics. I can hear her from my bedroom. It’s horrible that she has these thoughts and we’re waiting for her to be referred to a sleep clinic.”

She said Persephone, who was diagnosed with Tourette’s at seven, nods and twitches like her father.

“She’d been trying to hide it at school and getting funny looks, and the kids in assembly kept saying to her to stop it, leaving her feeling anxious,” Mrs Battley said.

“One day it all got too much for Persephone so she had the day off school and we made a video, which she shared with her class to help them understand her condition. Now she’s been told she can leave the classroom if she gets embarrassed.”

Mr Battley’s tics are triggered by his favourite action movies.

“It sounds like he’s blowing out through his nose, and people say to him, ‘Do you have a cold’ and ‘Do you need a tissue?’,” Mrs Battley, who works in the insurance industry, said.

“As a kid he was told to stop it and it was ingrained in him to hide his Tourette’s.”

Mrs Battley said she’s noticed she and son Xavier have started copying their family members.

“When I get stressed I blink a lot and Xavier has spun,” she said.

“We’ll be walking down the street and he’ll turn and I’ll say, ‘Can you help it?’, and he says, ‘I have to do it’.”

While the Battleys, who have been married for 11 years, remind all their children of how special they are, they also try to spare them from potentially embarrassing situations.

“If we go out for a meal, I think what if our Tourette’s is bad and it feels awkward and people stare,” Mrs Battley said.

“We’ve not heard anything bad said to us in the street but if something happens I make a point to say, ‘oh dear, that’s your Tourette’s’, so people know. I make a joke of it.”

For information about Tourette syndrome, visit


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