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Does your child frequently have times when part of the body moves repeatedly, quickly, suddenly and uncontrollably (for example, eye blinking, facial grimacing, head jerks, shoulder shrugs)?

What are Tic DO/Tourette's?

  • Tic disorders (including Tourette's Disorder) are conditions in which children and/or adolescents engage in frequent and sudden body movements which are out of their control. These movements may be motor (e.g., eye blinking, facial grimacing, head jerks, shoulder shrugs, irregular tongue movements, throat clearing) or vocal (e.g., repeating sounds or words, echoing others' sounds or words, repeating inappropriate words or phrases.1
  • There are three different types of tic disorders. These include Tourette's Disorder, Chronic Motor or Vocal Tic Disorder, and Transient Tic Disorder.
    • Children and adolescents with Tourette's Disorder display several types of motor tics and at least one (if not more) vocal tics. These tics must occur several times a day for at least a year, and cannot be due to a substance (including medication) or other medical condition.
    • Children and adolescents with Chronic Motor or Vocal Tic Disorder display either motor tics or vocal tics that occur several times a day for at least a year, and cannot be due to a substance (including medication) or other medical condition.
    • Children and adolescents with Transient Tic Disorder display one or more motor tics and/or vocal tics several times a year for more than one month but less than a year.
  • It is not uncommon for children and adolescents not to be aware of their tics. However, most children and adolescents will feel relief of anxiety and tension after the tic is performed.1
  • Additionally, it is not uncommon for tics to occur at different rates and degrees throughout the day. For example, it is relatively uncommon for tics to occur during sleep, and many individuals are able to control their tics in school or the doctor's office (as compared to at home).1

How common are Tic DO/Tourette's in children and adolescents?

  • The occurrence of Tourette's Disorder is strongly related to age, as tics are much more common in children (5 to 30 out of 10,000) experience tics than adults (1 to 2 out of 10,000).1
  • Tourette's Disorder is typically first diagnosed as early as age 2 years, and must be diagnosed before the age of 18. On average, Tourettte's Disorder is diagnosed in children between the ages of 6 and 7 years.1
  • In most cases, symptoms of Tourette's Disorder decrease with age, both in terms of frequency and degree.1
  • Children and adolescents diagnosed with tic disorders are more likely to have a relative with a tic disorder than children and adolescents without tic disorders.1
  • More boys than girls are diagnosed with Tourette's Disorder. The ratio of boys to girls ranges from 5:1 to 2:1.1
  • Children and adolescents diagnosed with Tourette's Disorder are often diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and/or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.1

What can I do if my child has been diagnosed with a Tic DO/Tourette's?

  • Visit a pediatrician or your child's health care provider who can assess for and/or treat tics. If you are outside the central MS area, please click on the following link(s) to learn about community mental health resources in your area: http://www.dmh.state.ms.us/pdf/CYSDirectory-Arial-9-15-08.pdf, http://www.nami.org/MSTemplate.cfm?Site=NAMI_Mississippi
  • It is important to note that, at times, tics and other similar movements may be due to medications or other medical conditions. It is important that any assessment of tic disorders should include a thorough background history of medication use and medical conditions, as well as a medical exam to rule out alternative explanations to the occurrence of the tics.
  • The National Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) is an organization for parents and families of children and adolescents diagnosed with Tourette's Disorder that provides education and guidance on how to help children and adolescents diagnosed with Tourette's Disorder in all aspects of their lives. The website can be found at: http://www.tsa-usa.org/.

1American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed. rev.). Washington, D. C.: Author.

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