sudden, repetitive movements or sounds that some people make, seemingly without being aware of it — are more common than you might realize. Many people have tics that go away in less than a year or mild tics that don't interfere with their lives.
But in some kids, tics are more severe or long lasting. If a child has tics for more than a year, it is called a chronic tic disorder. In some cases, these tics can be part of a condition called Tourette's syndrome.
The tics associated with Tourette's syndrome tend to get milder or go away entirely as kids grow into adulthood. Until that happens, though, parents can help their child cope with the condition.
Our multi-disciplinary clinic is led by a developmental pediatrician and staffed by neurology nurse practitioners, psychology services and social work. There isn't a specific diagnostic test for Tourette’s syndrome — instead, the doctor diagnoses it after taking a medical history and doing a physical exam. Sometimes, doctors use imaging tests like magnetic resonance imaging tests (MRIs), computerized tomography (CT) scans, electroencephalograms (EEGs), or blood tests to rule out other conditions that might have symptoms similar to Tourette’s.
Just as Tourette’s syndrome is different for every person, the treatment for it varies, too. While there isn't a cure for Tourette’s syndrome, sometimes doctors suggest medicines to help control symptoms if they start to interfere with schoolwork or daily life. But most tics do not get in the way of day-to-day life and won't need any medication.
Tourette’s syndrome is not a psychological condition, but doctors sometimes refer kids and teens to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Seeing a therapist won't stop tics, but it can help kids and teens to talk to someone about their problems, cope with stress better, and learn relaxation techniques.