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What Are Tics & Tourette's Syndrome in Children?

Learn about tics and Tourette's syndrome in children from Dr. Kimberly Williams in this Howcast video.


Ticks and Tourette's disorder are a neurobiological disorder that's genetically inherited. What you'll commonly see in children with tick disorders or Tourette's syndrome is motor ticks or, at least, one vocal tick. Sometimes motor ticks include eye blinking or raising and lowering the shoulders. Sometimes there's manual or bimanual motor movements that seem a little bit odd or unusual. Sometimes when children have vocal ticks, they may clear their throat or they may cough, and sometimes it's a little bit distracting to family or students in the classroom. Many times ticks are transient, which means they change or they wax and wane over time.

Ticks are very common in childhood ages and elementary school ages. And sometimes ticks tend to change or become transient and wax and wane by the time a child reaches adolescent ages. Oftentimes, ticks also become more heightened or exacerbated when a child is under stress, whether it be family stress or academic stress, sometimes there's an increase in tick activity.

Ticks are typically treated only if they are functionally impairing for a child. So it's okay for a child experiencing ticks as long as they're not having any physical difficulties, or it's not interfering with family life or academics, to just let them be. Other times, medication is introduced to decrease or minimize the ticks, for instance, if a child has such severe nodding ticks that it's creating muscle tension in their neck or their shoulders, or if their vocal ticks are so distracting that it's causing problems with their learning.

Tourette's syndrome and tick disorders are very complex. And parents and families dealing with tick disorders will be working with their physician to help minimize and decrease some of the symptoms. But this is some of the general information you should know about ticks and Tourette's syndrome.

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