Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette’s syndrome is known to most people as Tourette’s, TS or Gilles de la Tourette’s syndrome. This disorder is named after a French physician and neurologist, who published a report of nine patients with Tourette’s in 1885. The patients he described all had this condition from childhood and there were multiple physical (motor) tics and vocal (phonic) tics visible including transient and chronic tics.

Genetic and environmental factors play a role in Tourette's Syndrome, but the exact causes are unknown. There is no cure for Tourette's and no medication that works universally for all individuals without side effects. When medication is used, the goal is not to make symptoms disappear, but to make them less disturbing. Most of the time the tics subside with explanation, reassurance, understanding of the condition and a supportive environment. The condition in most children improves when they grow older. However some children with Tourette syndrome have severe symptoms that are still there when they become adults.


Tics are movements or sounds that occur out of the blue. Tics are sudden, repetitive, stereotyped involuntary movements such as: eye blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing, and facial movements. Phonic tics are involuntary sounds produced by moving air through the nose, mouth, or throat. The tics in Tourette’s can change in number, severity and frequency. They can increase or decrease at any moment and are unpredictable. The tics are experienced as an irresistible urge that must be expressed however some people with Tourette’s can have some controle over their tics. Sometimes tics can be supressed for a short periode of time.

Tourette’s and Asperger

To have been diagnosed with these two conditions does make life more complicated then one wished for. Sometimes tics can be encouraged by the love for repetitive behavior or rituals some children with Asperger display. Sometimes the stereotyped behavior like hand flapping which can occur in children with Asperger can set off other involuntary movements such as tics. It’s important to get a diagnoses and maybe some form of mild medication in order to get a better control of the tics. Children with Tourette’s have a normal intelligence and the overall prognosis is positive since most tics will disappear once they reach adolescence.

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