What are Tics & Tourette Syndrome?
What are Tic Disorders?
People with tics make quick or sudden movements or sounds that are repeated. These "tics" seem to have no reason and cannot be controlled. Some people with tics are not even aware they are doing them. Up to one in five children has experienced tics. Examples of common tics are throat-clearing or eye-blinking. In some children and youth, the tics become more obvious or happen more often when they are feeling stressed or anxious.
Tics are a symptom of tourette syndrome but can appear on their own as well. A child or youth may be diagnosed with tourette syndrome if their tics:
- are both motor and vocal tics
- have lasted for at least a year
- began before the age of 18
- are not caused by a medical condition or a side-effect of medications or other drugs
If the child or youth has some but not all of these, they might have a tic disorder.
How do I know if it's Tics & Tourette Syndrome?
The first tics usually appear in children before they are 10 years old. The tics usually affect the head and neck areas. At this stage, they tend to come and go, and don't cause any real problems. In children who develop tourette syndrome, the worst symptoms tend to happen when they are between 9 and 13 years old. A lot of kids eventually outgrow their tics, but some children will continue to have tics into adulthood.
What can be done?
Parents or caregivers should talk to a doctor if they think their child or youth might have tics or tourette syndrome. A lot of children and youth with tics also have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The doctor can help to figure out whether the child has any of these other conditions. It can be helpful to learn more about tics, and explain them to family, teachers or other caregivers.
Where to from here?
Talk to your doctor and look for help from a mental health professional by:
- self-referring or getting a referral to the local Child and Youth Mental Health team
- contacting your Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), if you have this option
- contacting a private psychologist or counsellor:
For additional information about options for support and treatment in BC, visit the Finding Help section of our site.
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