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Tourette syndrome is no impediment for Tyler Bloch

Tyler Bloch cooks healthy dinners for his family

Tyler Bloch cooks healthy dinners for his family -- here a black bean burger, sweet potatoes and cabbage slaw. Credit: Barry Sloan

Tyler Bloch is not only a top student and tennis master but is also a teenage foodie with thousands of fans.

Bloch, 17, cooks healthy dinners for his family each night, has an Instagram food blog with more than 3,600 followers and appeared on the Food Network show “Chopped” when he was only in ninth grade.

From curried lentil stew to charred scallion bruschetta to banana-oat pancakes — he’s driven by a greater purpose.

Bloch, a resident of Jericho, was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome when he was 7, after experiencing repetitive, physical “tics,” episodes in which he was unable to control certain movements. He would clench his neck muscles and poke people, all the while not intending to harm anyone and not fully understanding why these episodes occurred.

But when he’s cooking or immersing himself in some of his other activities — like playing the piano or speaking Spanish or French — the physical tics go away.

“In many cases, when I’m engaged in something, the Tourette’s isn’t even there,” he said. “When I’m cooking, I’m really in the zone.”

The disorder that used to be a challenge for him has turned into a source of empowerment.

Bloch feels a sense of duty to be an advocate, speaking in school districts as a youth ambassador for the Long Island Tourette Association, based in Jericho. He also used the cooking show to advance his advocacy.

“Nothing bad can happen if you are honest and forthright with people and advocate for yourself,” Bloch said.

HIGHER ED: Bloch is going to Yale University and will likely study political science and global affairs.

FRESHMAN FAST-FORWARD: “Right now I have so many interests, so [I’m looking forward to] exploring what I like doing more in-depth and trying new things, because you never know when you’ll find something you’ll fall in love with.”

WHAT MAKES YOU EXTRAORDINARY: “I don’t think I have so much skill but just having a ‘go-getter’ attitude. I try to have a good time doing things I love and put every ounce of effort into everything I do.”

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