Tics & Tourette

Tic Disorders are characterized as frequent involuntary motor or vocal tics, such as head jerking or throat clearing. When an individual has both motor and vocal tics lasting 1 year or longer, they may receive a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome.

Understanding Tic Disorders

Tics are involuntary, uncontrollable, unwanted and repetitive movements of the muscles that can occur in any part of the body. Motor tics include movements of the limbs and other body parts. Vocal tics involve involuntary repetitive sounds, such as grunting, sniffing, or throat clearing.

Tics can also be divided into the following categories:

  • Simple tics: These are sudden and fleeting tics using few muscle groups. Examples include nose twitching, eye darting, or throat clearing.
  • Complex tics: These involve coordinated movements using several muscle groups. Examples include hopping or stepping in a certain way, gesturing, or repeating words or phrases.

What is Tourette Syndrome?

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a complex neurological disorder. It is characterized by multiple tics – both motor and vocal. It is the most severe and least common tic disorder. Symptoms of TS vary in their severity over time. For many people, symptoms improve with age.

TS is often accompanied by other conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

What does treatment involve?

Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) is an intervention that involves the following components:

  • Training the patient to be more aware of tics
  • Training patients to do competing behavior when they feel the urge to tic
  • Making changes to day to day activities in ways that can be helpful in reducing tics.
When a person employs the appropriate competing response in a calm manner, their tic improves, leading to an enhanced sense of well-being and increased control.