1. What are the differences between tics?
Tics are repetitive, involuntary movements or sounds. Vocal tics, like a throat clear, a cough, a grunt or even a shout are phonic sounds. Complex vocal tics are series of words or sentences that often don’t fit with what your child is talking about.
Motor tics are bursts of movement, like a nose scrunch, an arm movement or even a head jerk. They can also be a series of movements, like a twirl or a jump or something that looks like a dance movement.
2. What is Tourette’s?
Tourette’s Syndrome is a kind of tic disorder. For a child to be diagnosed with Tourette’s they have to have multiple motor movements and one vocal tic over the course of more than one year.
For more information on Tourette’s Syndrome, follow the links below:
3. What are the impacts of a tic disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome?
Your child may be diagnosed with a tic disorder or Tourette’s Syndrome if their symptoms become functionally impairing. It might get in the way of thinking or communicating clearly.
If something is more than simply a movement, they will also feel a premonitory urge, or feeling an itching or burning to do the tic in order for everything to be all right.
4. Where do tics and Tourette’s Syndrome come from?
Tics can genetically run in families, like hair and eye color or height. Environmental situations can also increase tic behavior if it is a stressful experience. Tics are often diagnosed with other mental health diagnoses like OCD, ADHD, anxiety and learning disorders.
5. What are available treatment options for tics and Tourette’s?
Medication is available for tic disorders. At Akron Children’s NeuroDevelopmental Science Center, comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT) is a short-term therapy treatment. During eight sessions over the course of 10 weeks, parents and their child identify what their premonitory urge looks like and in what environments they tic in more often, like school settings for example.
Once the preliminary conditions are established, your child works on habit reversal. They work with the therapist to practice a physical movement that replaces the tic to make it physically impossible to carry out the tic. For example, they might replace an arm-jerk tic with a movement of holding their elbow at their side.
Stress management and relaxation skills are also a part of CBIT therapy along with teaching your child to advocate for themselves and talk about tics.
If you have concerns about your child, talk with their pediatrician.