Involuntary and uncontrollable movement or vocalization that appears suddenly and is unspecific to the person’s normal behavior. A tic “builds-up”, thus the person in case feels a sense of relief after their manifestation. There are three categories: transient (provisional) tic disorders (in children, present for less than a year and does not recur), chronic motor or vocal tic disorder, and Tourette syndrome. Tics are common in childhood and usually disappear within a few weeks.


Tourette syndrome:

This syndrome implies having recurring manifestations of both motor and vocal tics for over a year. The motor and vocal tics usually occur at the same time in the majority of cases.




The exact cause is unknown, but there are a couple of factors that influence their prevalence


Possible causes: genetic inheritance, brain abnormalities, faulty neurotransmitters, streptococcal infections in children


Usually children with tics have other disorders: ADHD, OCD, anxiety disorder, learning problems, autism spectrum disorder


Tourette syndrome:


Exact cause unknown

Presumably, a combination of genetic and environmental factors

Affected serotonin and dopamine levels (neurotransmitters)

A family history of Tourette syndrome makes a person more susceptible to the disorder

Symptoms and signs

Tics can be motor or vocal, simple or complex:

Frequent eye blinking


Shoulder shrugging

Mouth movement – jaw clenching, teeth grinding

Making simple sounds

Clearing the throat



Repeating observed movements

Obscene gesturing


Tourette Syndrome:


Coughing with no reason, throat clearing


Repeating words and phrases (his/her own or other’s)

Using vulgar, swear words



There are no brain or laboratory tests that can diagnose tics or Tourette syndrome


The diagnosis is based on patient observation, medical and family history, and tests that rule out other medical conditions that could be responsible, drug tests


For Tourette syndrome diagnostic: the patient has at least two motor tics and a vocal one that have been present for over a year; also have the tics onset, before 18 years of age


Habit reversal therapy is suggested


Medication: dopamine D2 receptor antagonist therapy, dopamine agonist therapy


Clonidine may be recommended – medication that can help control anxiety and hyperactivity


In exceptional cases: Deep Brain Stimulation (through electrodes)


Some concentrated dietary supplements (nutraceuticals) have shown some improvement in the case of persons with tics


Some tics can be suppressed, but in most cases they eventually “explode” – the build-up is sensed by the person and repressing it often causes more stress and frustration


    Excessive and sudden swearing is a defining sign of Tourette syndrome. (only 10-15% of the cases have “swearing issues”)


    Tics are caused by bad parenting


    Teaching a child to suppress one tic will lead to him/her developing many others


    Tourette syndrome gets worse with age


    Tourette syndrome can be fully managed just by concentrating


    People with tics/Tourette syndrome are mentally challenged


    Tourette syndrome is a debilitating disorder


    People with tics/Tourette cannot perform certain tasks or have certain jobs that require finesse in movement


Tics – American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


Tics occur in early school years in up to 10% of children


They usually appear between the ages of 4 and 6 years, reach a critical peak around 10-12 and usually disappear in adolescence


In about 1% of the cases the tics persist throughout adult life


Over 18% of all children have at least one tics at some point in their development


Tourette syndrome:


Men are up to four times more prone to developing Tourette syndrome than women


1 in every 360 US children (age: 6-17) has Tourette syndrome (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimation)

Did you know?


Less TV time and video games limit tic manifestation


British poet Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) suffered from Tourette syndrome and OCD


Major League Baseball player, Jim Eisenreich has Tourette syndrome. He created the Jim Eisenreich Foundation for Children with Tourette Syndrome in 1996