Tourettes Syndrome: Tic Disorders
What is Tourette’s Syndrome?
Tourettes syndrome is a neurological disorder that is comprised of involuntary repetitive movements and when vocalized, they are called tics. Tics are sudden, brief, and intermittent movements and sounds, which make up Tourette’s syndrome. Tourette’s Syndrome normally always begins during childhood, on average at the age of 7 years old. Children may inadvertently blink their eyes, shrug their shoulders, or blurt out sounds or inappropriate words.
- Eye blinking/ Eye darting
- Finger flexing
- Sticking the tongue out
- Head jerking
- Shoulder shrugging
- Touching the nose
- Touching people
- Smelling objects
- Throat clearing
- Repeating phrases or words
- Using obscene words
Based on the severity of Tourette’s syndrome you have, your tics may worsen if you are stressed, tired, or excited. They can occur in your sleep, they may evolve into different tics over time, and they can vary in frequency and severity.
Before a tic is about to happen, individuals can experience a premonitory urge such as a tingle or itch. Once they express the tic, it brings relief. In some cases, if the tics are better controlled, one can leave a public space and step away to express the tic so that it is less disruptive.
Neurobehavioral Problems Associated With Tourette’s
- Obsessive Compulsive Thoughts and Symptoms
Treatment For Tourette’s
There is no defined treatment for Tourette’s. It is not life threatening and oftentimes the symptoms can be controlled. Post-teenage years, the symptoms tend to lessen too. Some things that can help include psychotherapy to talk about accompanying problems such as ADHD, obsessions, anxiety, and depression.
Behavior Therapy is a very helpful treatment for Tourette’s. One specific form of behavior therapy called habit reversal training can help reduce tics. By monitoring tics, one can identify premonitory urges, and then the individual can learn to move in a way that is compatible with that urge, thus suppressing the tic.
Although Tourette’s itself is not treated, you may need treatment for the related conditions associated with it. These conditions include: ADHD, OCD, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, and sleep disorders. All of these things can be directly treated with medication.
The cause of Tourette’s syndrome is unknown and there is no way to prevent it. More than likely, this complex syndrome is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Though it is still unknown, certain brain chemicals that transmit nerve impulses could be a factor.
Oftentimes children can display things that look like tics, but they only last a few weeks. Not all tics are Tourette’s syndrome. If your child’s unusual behavior lasts a month or more, it is important to see a doctor who can evaluate the cause.
If Tourette’s has run in the family, an individual may have an increased risk for developing it. Also, males are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop Tourette’s than females.
Though it may be an embarrassing thing to have tics, there are ways to lessen the severity of them and there is support available to coping with them. As a parent to a child with tics, you can become informed on Tourette syndrome and nurture your child’s self esteem. By helping to educate teachers, and parents of friends involved in your child’s life, you can be their best advocate.
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