Archive for the ‘Tourettes Syndrome’ Category


Today is a zittertag, literally a twitchy day. My German professor coined the term to describe the days when my Tourette’s Syndrome(or other neurodivergences) mean that I function in ways pretty radically different from your average person. For me it is intrusive tics, obsessive thoughts, and an inability to string together words when speaking aloud. It is also accompanied by deep depression, feeling that I am incapable of accomplishing anything, or what I can complete is too small and irrelevant to move my team closer to a working release.

Both sides of this are “interesting” and “fun” obstacles to pretty much everything I do. While I have to get creative about finding productivity I still managed to code review my co-workers work from the past few days, and find a new and interesting bug. Is that what I had planned to do with my day? Not at all! The build is still broken, and I need to finish 6 tickets before Friday. I am going to have to get pretty clever and dig deep to finish them all in time for the planned deployment.

When I transferred over from teaching to work in software I found that many of the skills that the project management and planning skills that formed the “Software Engineering” curriculum were things I had already figured out just to survive my History program. In my first group software project I discovered I was wildly more agile than many of my peers. Learned the lessons of the agile manifesto as part of getting by as a person with disabilities.

Responding to Change is a core life skill for me. When I don’t know what I will be capable of at any particular moment. I had to Collaborate to keep up to date when I might be forced to leave the lecture hall when my Tics became disturbing, and I learned closely that results and people are what matters, not necessarily the processes, check-lists, or plans that people might think matter.

Agile is the “reasonable accommodation” that makes it possible for me to make a living coding. It meaningfully enables me to bring the diversity and random bits of serendipity that life hands twitchy folks to bear in software engineering, and the insights of living with disability to making better software and tools.