Tic Disorders and Tourette Syndrome in Children
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
Tic disorders are fairly common in children. Tics are involuntary movements which wax and wane. Tics tend to start in early life and can go on for several years. Children can have motor tics such as eye blinking, facial grimacing, lip pouting and other non specific facial movements. Children can also have vocal tics which involve the child making random sounds such as sniffling, throat, clearing, barking noises or squeaky noises. Children can have motor tics and vocal tics occurring independently or occurring together.
Tourette Syndrome is a tic disorder that the diagnosis is made when the child/young person has had motor and vocal tics lasting longer than 1 year.
Children with tics may perceive a warning sign/ feeling before the tics occur . These feelings are referred to as ‘premonitory urges’ . The presence of premonitory urges can sometimes make the child feel uncomfortable. The feelings occur before the tic and the child feels better after doing the tic. Children with multiple tics may experience different types of premonitory urges. Children feel better after doing the tic, however the process will start all over again.
Most children with tic disorders are not treated with medication. Tics are only treated with medication if they become disabling to the child. Children can however benefit from behavioural therapies such as Habit Reversal Therapy which is aimed at helping children take control of their tic disorders.
Children with tic disorders have an increased risk of developing ADHD, Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive disorders.
Children do sometimes need to be treated for these difficulties. It is important that children with tic disorders are assessed by Specialist Paediatricians or Child Psychiatrists to ensure they do not have other neurological disorders and also to assess if they have any of the additional difficulties.
Following diagnosis, the Paediatrician may also contact the child/young person’s school to inform them on how to support the child at school.
If you are concerned your child may have a tic and would like to have assessed by us in our Child Development Service, please contact us and an appointment can be arranged with Dr Takon, who has a great deal of experience in this area.