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Many neurodevelopmental conditions can often exist together, but each can be treated in different ways.  The picture below illustrates how the conditions overlap.  Please use the drop down menu to view other conditions.

What Is A Tic?

A motor tic is when a part of the body makes a quick, sudden, uncontrollable movement.  Tics can affect any part of the body such as the face, shoulders, hands or legs and may happen many times.

A vocal tic is an involuntary sound made over and over again, for example throat clearing or a humming noise.  Most tics are mild and do not cause much upset to everyday life.  However if they are frequent and severe they can affect many areas of a child’s life. Tics do not occur when asleep. Sometimes a child can ‘hold’ the tics in for a period of time but then have an outburst of tics later.  This is not done on purpose.

Transient Tic Disorder

This is when a child has tics that happen almost every day for more than four weeks.  It is very common and affects almost one in four children at some point.

Chronic Tic disorder

This is when tics have been happening for over a year.  It is much rarer and affects between 1-2% of children at some stage. Rarely, a child will go on to develop Tourette’s Syndrome.  This is the rarest type of tic disorder and occurs when there are both motor and vocal tics which gradually become more and more complicated and cause significant problems in the child’s life.  Most children who have a tic disorder do not have Tourette’s syndrome.

What Causes A Tic Disorder?

There is no definite cause.  It is thought that genetic factors may be important. Some infections and medicines can also trigger tics.

Tic disorders generally come on around the age of 7-9 years and tend to affect boys more than girls.

How Can You Manage Tics ?

Tic disorders usually get better by themselves and most children do not need any treatment.  Tics tend to wax and wane and can get worse if a lot of attention is paid to them or at times of stress.  It is important to reassure the child that tics are not harmful.

What Is Tourette's Syndrome ?

Tourette’s Syndrome is a condition whereby an individual has involuntary motor and vocal tics.  Both vocal and motor tics need to be present for at least one year for Tourette’s to be diagnosed.

What Are The Symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome ?

Examples of motor tics

Various facial gestures                               Grooming the hair

Squatting                                                     Retracing footsteps

Eye blinking                                                 Eye rolling

Neck jerking                                                 Head nodding

Examples of vocal tics

Clearing the throat                                      Coughing

Squeaking or squealing                              Grunting

Stuttering                                                     Unusual sounds

Sniffing                                                        Humming

What Are The Causes Of Tourette's Syndrome ?

There are several possibilities as to the cause of Tourette’s.  It is believed that it is an inherited disorder where there is an imbalance in the transportation of the chemical dopamine in the neurotransmitters.  Alternative explanations include low levels of serotonin.  However, the evidence suggesting this is less clear.

How Common Is Tourette's Syndrome ?

The onset of Tourette’s is typically between the age of 2 and 21 years, with the average age being 7 years old; vocal tics usually starting earlier than motor ones.  It affects up to 2% of school aged children and boys are affected 2 to 4 times more than girls.  Tourette’s is generally less common in adults as compared to children, with symptoms being less severe in adults.

What Is The Treatment For Tourette's Syndrome ?

There are drug and non-drug options available to help treat Tourette’s.  There is evidence supporting the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Habit Reversal Training but little on other non-drug treatments.

Medication is also available to help alleviate tics, typically neuroleptics, dopamine receptor blocking drugs.  Unfortunately, the effect of medication varies between individuals, with some having well-controlled tics when on medication, and others with very little difference.

More Information

If you would like more information about any of our assessments or management options,

Please contact us on
info@lanc.uk.com or 01403 240002


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