A small film by a New Hope musician, about living a creative life with Tourette’s syndrome, had won an award at the Bucks County Film Festival and is now available on Comcast as an on-demand featurette.
Stephan DiJoseph was visited by the urge to make music, and Tourette’s syndrome, at the same time. When he was 6 years old, he began demonstrating the disorder’s signature manifestation: blurting random vulgarities.
He wrote a song about it.
“When I was just a boyMy daddy said to meCursing’s not a toyAnnoying it can be.”
DiJoseph did, in fact, make cursing into a toy. In his film, “SynapTic Adventure,” he shows off flash cards with expletives written on them, so he can act out his syndrome quietly, while in libraries and gift shops.
Vulgarities are just one way Tourette’s syndrome manifests. It can appear as slight barking sounds, obsessive-compulsive behavior or uncontrollable movements of the hands and neck.
DiJoseph suffers from occasional tics in his arms and hands. He says he uses his Tourette’s syndrome as a kind of musical partner. “It’s a little like playing golf,” he said. “You play the ball where it lands.”
“SynapTIC Adventure” is a mostly stream-of-consciousness film, full of editing tics that mimic the neurological fits of his own brain. It’s also kind of funny.
“Having someone with Tourette’s work in a china shop, or something,” said DiJoseph. “Having comedy in there for me is really important.”
DiJoseph has started using the film in his performances, to present Tourette’s syndrome as a question most everyone can understand: why is my brain doing what it’s doing?
“As you grow to understand it, you start to take hold of it in a more first-person way,” said DiJoseph. “But I do think it has these multiple personality aspects to it.”
The film will be available on demand on Comcast’s Xfinity until the end of the year.