About Tic Disorders

A tic occurs when a part of the body moves repeatedly, quickly, suddenly, and uncontrollably. It can occur in any body part, like the face, shoulders, hands, or legs. Tics can be stopped voluntarily for brief periods. Vocal tics are sounds that are made involuntarily, such as throat clearing or sniffing). Most tics are hardly noticeable. However, in some cases, tics can be frequent and severe, and affect many areas of an individual’s life.

Provisional tic disorder is the most common tic disorder. It can affect up to 10% of children. Teachers may notice the tics and believe the child is under stress or nervous. Provisional tics go away on its own in less than a year. On the contrary, it can get worse with anxiety, tiredness, and some medications. Some tics don’t go away. Those that last more than a year are called persistent tics. Persistent tics affect less than 1% of children and may be related to Tourette’s disorder.

Children with Tourette’s have both body and vocal tics. Some of these tics disappear by early adulthood, while some may continue. Children with Tourette’s may also have problems with attention and/or learning disorders and may act impulsively. For example, people with Tourette’s may blurt out obscene words, insult others, or make obscene movements. They cannot control these sounds and movement and should not be blamed for them. Children with Tourette’s may be punished by parents, teased by classmates, and scolded by teachers. This will not control the tics, but rather hurt the child’s self-esteem and increase their distress. 

The diagnosis of Tourette’s disorder or another tic disorder can be done through a comprehensive evaluation by a pediatrician or other health care professional. Treatment for the child with a tic disorder may include medication to help control the symptoms, and a type of behavior therapy where the child learns to develop awareness of the tics and comes up with different behaviors to take its place. Here at Premier Mind Institute (PMI), we take the necessary time and steps to provide thorough evaluations for children, adolescents, and adults who have tic disorders. We look at every individual as a whole incorporating various treatment plans, customized for each person. At PMI, we focus on providing individuals with coping skills to effectively work through their condition, while collaborating with other professionals and family members for an effective, safe living environment. 

*Reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, © All Rights Reserved, 2019. For full text please visit: https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Tic-Disorders-035.aspx


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