It's all in her bag of tics

STEPHANIE AARONSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sutie Madison uses her dance troupe, Band of Artists, to spread awareness of Tourette's syndrome and other neurological disorders.
STEPHANIE AARONSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sutie Madison uses her dance troupe, Band of Artists, to spread awareness of Tourette's syndrome and other neurological disorders.
Posted: June 25, 2013

ONLY 10 PERCENT of people with Tourette's syndrome involuntarily shout obscenities. Sutie Madison isn't one of them.

No, when Madison says a swear word, she means it.

"This is the f---ing reality artists have to go through," she says. "I'm trying to do something to help people, and I'm scrambling to find a job like every other person out there."

* spirit fingers* * eye flick*

Madison, 32, is at the kitchen table of her Ambler home sitting across from her 89-year-old grandmother, Quindella Spadaccini. The table is under a mural of a cowboy riding a bucking stallion that Madison painted.

She says she doesn't watch Western films - she's just always wanted a cowboy.

* bark* *bark* *bark*

Madison is the director of Band of Artists, a Philadelphia-based dance troupe that uses performance art to teach about neurological disorders, particularly Tourette's syndrome, the disorder that Madison battles.

But in her kitchen yesterday, Madison worries about finding a job that pays enough to support her and her 10-year-old daughter - and the worry is making her Tourette's tics worse, she says.

* silent scream* *spirit fingers*

One of her tics brings her hand to her forehead in a movement that looks like a cat gingerly washing itself. There's also the eye flick, the "silent scream" and one she calls "spirit fingers."

"She even names them, see!" Spadaccini says.

* bark* *bark* *bark*

But the worst, she says, are the barks - shouting "ar" in short bursts - and the head-banging, which gives her a headache.

Spadaccini is staying with Madison for a few weeks. Having someone around helps. The tics are worse when you're alone, Madison says.

* leg spasm* *eye flick*

"I do better with people around," she says, smiling. "Unless they're a pain in the ass."

Madison says the tics lessen when she's performing, drinking or having sex.

"That's because you're having such a good time, who the hell is thinking of ticcing?" Spadaccini says.

* spirit fingers*

- Stephanie Farr


On Twitter: @FarFarrAway

Chillin' Wit' is a regular feature of the Daily News that spotlights a name in the news away from the job.

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