Tics, Tic Disorder and Tourette's Disorder

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Tics are sudden, repetitive, rapid involuntary movements (motor tics) and vocalizations or sounds (vocal tics).

Simple motor tics include head bobs and jerks, eye blinks, facial twitches, jaw movements, neck stretching, arm jerks and shoulder shrugs. More complex motor tics involve combining movements and utilize multiple muscle groups.

Simple vocal tics include shouting, grunting, sniffing, and throat clearing. More complex vocal tics are complete words or phrases that are consistently spoken out of context and may or may not be recognizable.

Tics are most commonly seen as beginning to onset during childhood. In most cases, they do not continue for more than a year, and many times disappear during adolescence. It is estimated that about 20% of school aged children temporarily exhibit some form of tics.

Tics can range from mild to severe and can be controlled with treatment if the symptoms are causing continuing issues.

Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome, commonly called Tourette’s, is a type of tic disorder characterized by the uncontrolled occurrence of at least 2 motor tics and at least 1 vocal tic in some combination over a period of 12 months or more. An example is someone who might blink, grimace and clear their throat repeatedly, or unintentionally blurt out words or sounds.

It has become increasingly apparent that Tourette Syndrome is much more common than originally thought. Current estimates are that between 0.6 and 1% of children have the disorder, affecting all races, ethnic groups, and ages. More common in boys than girls, childhood onset Tourette’s is often associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Attention-Deficit-Disorder (ADHD) and other anxiety disorders and problems.

The most widely known symptom associated with some, but not all cases of Tourette’s, is explosive vocalization of profanity, ethnic slurs, or other inappropriate and unacceptable words or phrases (coprolalia).

The Anxiety and OCD Treatment Center of Florida successfully treats children, teens and adults with Tic Disorder or Tourette’s using the most up to date evidence based treatments: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically, Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT) and Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) as well as Medication Management.