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Tim Howard shares words of encouragement for children with Tourette syndrome

Howard created a personal video as part of the #MyYoungerSelf campaign with the Child Mind Institute.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at FC Dallas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

While just about every Colorado Rapids fan knows that Tim Howard has Tourette syndrome and OCD, what you might not know about is the work he does to support children who are also growing up with the disorder.

In his book, The Keeper: A Life Of Saving Goals And Achieving Them, Howard goes into detail about the impact of TS on his early life. After explaining how his OCD manifested he writes: “Next came the tics. Each started the same way: with an uncomfortable sensation in some part of my body – a heightened awareness, an urge. The feeling could be relieved only by some specific motor action. I started blinking, for example – forceful, deliberate blinks that I couldn’t stop. I began to clear my throat over and over. Then there were facial jerks. Shoulder shrugs. Eye rolling.” (You can read a longer excerpt from the book here.)

After almost every game (if not every single game), Howard meets with a child with TS and their family for a few minutes. I’ve seen him do this after home games and away games, and no matter what the result might be, Howard shows up with a smile on his face and gives his full attention to that family in that moment.

More recently, Howard has joined dozens of other actors, athletes, authors, comedians, and advocates to share a personal video as part of the #MyYoungerSelf campaign with the Child Mind Institute. In recognition of National Mental Health Awareness Month, the organization will release a new video every day in May to inspire the 17.1 million children who have or once had a mental health disorder and bring awareness to the magnitude of this issue.

Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, Founding President of the Child Mind Institute, believes that the campaign is important because “by sharing their own personal stories for the second annual #MyYoungerSelf campaign, these actors, athletes, authors, and influencers are helping to eradicate the stigma that keeps the 1 in 5 young people who struggle with a mental health or learning disorder from getting help and reaching their potential. We all know and love these children—if it’s not your son or daughter, it’s a niece or a nephew, or your child’s best friend at school. #MyYoungerSelf represents our society, whether you’re famous or not, coming together to get these kids the help they need.”

In each video, the advocate shares the advice they wish someone told them as a child. Tim Howard’s advice to his younger self is: “Stay the course, surround yourself with great people – people who believe in you, who love you for who you are and allow you to express yourself in whatever way you feel fit. I would also encourage my younger self to not be bogged down with stereotypes. When I was a kid, I wondered if I was going to be able to date or drive a car, and all these things seem silly now, but at the time they were real. Take a moment, pause, and allow myself to realize that I can do and accomplish anything I wanted to with TS because or in spite of it.”

Watch his video below or on the Child Mind Institute Facebook page.

Tim Howard has Tourette’s syndrome. We asked what he’d like to tell his younger self.

“I'd take a moment and pause and allow myself to realize that I can do and accomplish anything I wanted to, with TS, because or in spite of it.” - Tim Howard #MyYoungerSelf

Posted by Child Mind Institute on Sunday, May 6, 2018