Ho Lee Ching: An International Story

“The Tourette Association of America (TAA) has been and continues to be a solid foundation for our family when our daughter was first discovered with Tourette 20 years ago. The greatest fear about any medical condition is the inability to learn about it and how to live with it.

Lee Ching was 10 years old when we finally knew why she was making sounds for no apparent reasons. The painful truth is she has tics, both vocal and motor, since she was seven. She is fortunate to have good friends and teachers who understood her disability and are ever supportive.

We are very fortunate to have found TAA and with it, bountiful resources on Tourette and a wonderful opportunity to share and learn from one another through your websites and in particular the newsletter That Darn Tic which my daughter wrote to on a few occasions. It was through TAA that we established a small informal help support group among family members and their special children in Malaysia. We also set up a website Tourette Syndrome Awareness Malaysia with support of TAA but it lasted only a few years.

We were once worried it would be impossible for her to live an ordinary life. However, with support from friends and many kind souls, she is today leading an extraordinary life living her passion as a stage actor. All this started with the strong foundation of support from TAA and is now progressing even more with the fantastic understanding and support of the founders of the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, Faridah Merican and Joe Hasham, as well as Malaysia’s perfoming arts community.

Lee Ching has performed in several plays at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre where she is employed as Actor-in-residence. Today, she is 27 years old and enjoying herself as an actor. The joy of acting overflows and drowns out her tics. It is a miracle that her tics disappear on stage.

I below please see the article on Lee Ching, from the Tourette Association America in the hope that they will serve to inspire others especially the younger ones that they know they can live extraordinary lives with Tourette and that they will be showered with love and care by kind souls at TAA and the world.

Once again, we thank you for all your help and support. TAA truly inspires hope for a better tomorrow.

– Robert Ho


Ho Lee Ching: An International Story

2008 TAA Spotlight

In Malaysia, Ho Lee Ching’s odd behaviors singled her out for punishment and ridicule in school. Her parents were concerned about her tics and twitches and little Lee Ching felt like there was “another person” inside her. A doctor said she had a tic but there was no explanation for her compulsion to turn light switches on and off or the need to pummel her own stomach repeatedly. Her worried father searched the Internet for answers and found the information that led to her diagnosis of Tourette syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

A few years have passed and Lee Ching is now an eloquent spokesperson for people with TS in her country. The articulate 18-year-old excels in academic studies and is passionate about dance. She was featured in a book entitled Gilding the Lilly, Everyday Portraits of Malaysian Women where she described how her symptoms disappear in the music and motion when she dances.
She recently appeared in Malaysia’s biggest musical, Ishmael the Last Days. “I was very fortunate that the leading player in Malaysia’s performing arts scene, the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center, accepted me despite the irritation I caused with my tics,” she said.

TS is virtually unknown in Malaysia. “Almost everyone I told would ask ‘what is that?’ The good news is that people are keen to know more about TS after they have met me.”

Lee Ching maintains a TS awareness website she launched with her best friend while they were in high school. She is grateful for the assistance she received from the TAA [formerly TSA] while working on the site’s content. Her friend wrote about their experiences in an article published in The Star newspaper, as part of an on-going project focusing on teenagers giving back to society.

Their story was then featured in the TAA [formerly TSA] children’s newsletter, That Darn Tic. Lee Ching hopes to establish a real life support group in Malaysia, as opposed to one in the virtual world of websites. “Right now, my father and I are trying to get in touch with people with Tourette Syndrome in Malaysia. We are in close touch with four of them so far. It is challenging because here in Malaysia people with TS are treated by psychiatrists and it is considered a social stigma,” Lee Ching stated.

She believes there is a great deal to be learned from the experiences of people with TS in the United States and how awareness has changed the quality of lives. She is particularly concerned with the level of professional knowledge. When she approached a specialist to get data on the number of people with TS in her country, she was told there were none.
“When meeting new groups of people I make it a point to inform them about TS and provide more information to those who want to know more. During my school days and at the start of college, we made copies of ‘Matthew and the Tics,’ with kind permission of TSA, to distribute to my teachers and school mates,” Lee Ching explained.