'American Idol' singer isn't hampered by Tourette's syndrome

Dave Pittman is amazed that when he sings, he stops twitching:
Dave Pittman is amazed that when he sings, he stops twitching: "It just goes away." (Michael Becker/fox)
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Growing up in a musically inclined family -- his father was a pastor who organized music for the church -- it's no surprise Dave Pittman took to singing. But Pittman, who has Tourette's, remains amazed that when he sings, he stops twitching. "That has always been the case, ever since it first manifested itself: When I sing, it's just not been there," Pittman said of his Tourette's. "It just goes away."

Pittman, who lives in Gassville, Ark., became one of the most recognizable faces of Tourette's this winter after he sang his way through the first round of the "American Idol" auditions. The show featured a vignette of his life with Tourette's.

Pittman said he was teased mercilessly as a child for his Tourette's, which was diagnosed in fourth grade. His parents helped him through the bullying. "When you learn to accept what you have and are comfortable with it, other kids will accept what you have," he recalls his mother telling him.

Pittman, 28, has been singing his entire life, and during college sang and toured with a trio.

As for his appearance on "American Idol," Pittman says he wasn't fazed when Neil Patrick Harris, an actor on the television comedy "How I Met Your Mother" and one of the judges on the early-round panels this year, asked him about his twitches on national television. Pittman made it through that round but didn't make into the finals. He forgot the lyrics (to "Get Ready" by the Temptations) in one round, a mortal sin in "Idol" world. But he said producers encouraged him to audition again next year.

Pittman is scheduled to speak and perform at the Tourette Syndrome Association national conference April15-18 in Alexandria. Information about Tourette's can be found online at or by calling the association at 718-224-2999.

-- Anne Miller

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