Tourette syndrome


Adoptive Families Association of BC
Special Needs Database

Tourette syndrome is a complex condition that arises during childhood or adolescence. It is characterized by repeated and involuntary body movements (tics). A tic is a sudden, rapid, stereotyped motor movement or vocalization. Tics can include eye blinking, repeated throat clearing or sniffing, arm thrusting, kicking movements, shoulder shrugging, or jumping.

Though a gene for Tourette syndrome has not been identified, there is strong evidence that it is an inherited disorder transmitted through one or more genes.

Simple motor tics:

  • Eye blinking
  • Eye rolling
  • Squinting
  • Head jerking
  • Facial grimacing
  • Nose-twitching
  • Lip smacking
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Mouth opening
  • Leg jerking

Complex motor tics:

  • Hitting
  • Touching self or others
  • Jumping
  • Smelling hands
  • Foot tapping
  • Foot shaking
  • Foot dragging
  • Chewing on clothes
  • Pulling at clothes
  • Any combination of movements done repeatedly

Simple vocal tics:

  • Throat clearing, grunts, sniffs, snorts, screams
  • Spitting, puffing, sucking, whistling, honking, stammering, or stuttering
  • Hissing, laughing, shouts, barking, moaning, guttural sounds
  • Noisy breathing, gasping, gurgling, squealing, clicking or clacking, hiccups
  • "tsk" or "pft" noises

Complex vocal tics

  • Any understandable words or phrases
  • Associated symptoms
  • Echolalia: repeating of phrases
  • Palallia: repeating words or syllables
  • Coprolalia: speaking obscenities or socially taboo phrases
  • Apraxia: inability to carry out an action, such as reading

Academic problems due to Tourette Syndrome:

  • Has difficulty organizing work, playing quietly
  • Often talks excessively, interrupts or intrudes on others
  • Often engages in physically dangerous activities without considering possible consequences
  • Often loses things necessary for activities at school or at home

Individuals with Tourette syndrome may have very minor symptoms. In this case, they are not treated. Otherwise, medications are used.

Tourette Syndrome can be accompanied by other disorders such as ADHD.

This resource is by no means intended as a substitute for a doctor's advice or diagnosis. Any concerns you may have with regard to your child's health and development should be discussed with a professional in an appropriate field.