Tourette Syndrome
   
 

Tourette Syndrome is a brain disorder characterized by tics. Tics are involuntary, sudden, rapid muscle movements or vocalizations that recur at irregular intervals. Tics range in severity from mild to more exaggerated movements and sounds and tend to increase with stress or excitement.
Although people with TS can often suppress their symptoms to some extent, tics are not the same as habits. Children have complete control over habits, but they do not over tics. Therefore, children with TS can be misunderstood because of the complexity of symptoms; parents, friends and teachers may find it hard to believe that TS behaviours cannot be completely controlled.


TS usually appears in childhood around the age of seven. It is estimated to affect one per cent of the population and is four times more common in boys than girls. The most common first symptoms are facial tics, such as rapid blinking or mouth twitching. In some cases, involuntary sounds such as throat clearing and sniffling may be the initial sign; in others, motor (i.e., movement) and vocal tics can appear at the same time.


Generally inherited, it is thought that TS may result from the interaction of several genes with environmental or other factors.
Many children with the syndrome have associated problems, such as obsessive compulsive disorder or attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, described in Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders and Impulse Control Disorders in this handbook.

 


  • Early intervention is key to managing the disorder and preventing further disability.
  • Get help from a qualified health practitioner, including a professional diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis will help to prevent any incorrect “labeling” of your child by others.
  • Obtain a second opinion if possible.
  • Find a support group for both you and your child, and exchange strategies.
  • Learn all you can about the disorder and educate your family and your child about the disorder.
  • Don’t compare your child to siblings or other children. Treat your child as a unique individual.
  • Re-evaluate and modify strategies as necessary. Work closely with your child’s teacher, doctor, and school team.
 
 

   
 
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