Tourette's Syndrome

Tia, Sarah, Scott

A Girl's Life, Interrupted by Tics


Tics generally begin around the age of 6 or 7. Tics initially begin in the center of the body: the head, neck and facial region. Tics that involve movement are called motor tics. Verbal tics, vocal tics, or phonic tics are involuntary sounds produced by moving air through the nose, mouth, or throat.
There are four main different types of tics. These tics include simple motor, complex motor, simple phonic, and complex phonic. Simple tics are sudden, brief and meaningless. Eye blinking, eye movements, grimacing, mouth movements, head jerks, finger movements, and jaw snap are common examples. Complex motor tics are slower, longer and more purposeful movements. This can include facial gestures, touching objects or touching self, thrusting your arms, and biting. Simple phonic tics are sudden and meaningless sounds or noises. Examples of these tics include throat clearing, coughing, sniffling, spitting, barking, sucking and clacking. Complex phonic tics are sudden and more meaningful utterances. Someone with complex phonic tics would be likely to say "shut up," "stop that," "okay, honey," etc.
For some people, tics can be temporarily suppressible, but suppression of tics can result in increased bursts of tics later. They are often described as involuntary because they can be perceived by the person ticking as a semi-voluntary response to an urge to relieve a sensation or feeling that precedes the tic. Mature children and adults can be more aware of these tics.

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Tourette Syndrome is an autosomal disorder meaning that it affects both males and females. TS can be genetic, a parent with TS or a parent who has a gene for TS has a 50/50 chance with each pregnancy to pass the gene on. If TS is passsed on genetically the child is not necessarily going to have symptoms of the disorder. If a girl inherits the gene there is a 70% chance that she will exhibit at least one symptom of TS. If a boy inherits the gene there is a 99% chance he will exhibit at least one symptom of TS. TS can be associated with nongenetic factors as well. it is associated with nongenetic causes in 10-15% of children with TS. Some of these reasons are; low birth weight, complications during preganancy,head trauma,carbon monoxide poisoing and encephalitis.

What accompanies tourettes

TS is associated with several different behavioral disorders particularly; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They may have learning difficulties for instance a school aged child with a tic that interferes with writing may have a difficult time completing hand written assignment. Vocal tics may interfere with a childs ability to concentrate. Children may exhibit behavioral problems such as agressiveness, hostility,irritability, and immaturity. They are more likely to hurt themselves on purpose. Many people with TS also have sleep issues.Some other issues people with TS are at greater risk for are;anxiety disorders,speech issues, depression, and Bipolar Disorder.

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Tourettes is a condition that affects the brain and nervous system. While there is no cure for TS there are several different treatment options available. This article will discuss controlling the tics that come along with Ts with diet. One diet that one with TS would benefit from is a Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) diet Children with TS have been shown to have an abnormal response to gluten. Because of all the altering that has occurred over the past years with gluten it is absolutely horrible on ones body. The toxicity of gluten damages a child's ability to breakdown Casein. The benefits of this diet are a result of removing foods that damage the GI tract and also actively heals it. Additional benefits one with TS would see following this diet would include but not necessarily limited to the following: a decrease in motor tics,increase in speech, improved social interaction, decreased self- stimulating and self harm behavior, an increase in the ability to to function and cognitive function, improved digestion, sleep, and immune function and increased awareness.
There are several things a person with TS should avoid in their diet, that are known triggers of tics. Some of these items include; caffeine,sweets,sodas, cane sugar, alcohol, artificial sweeteners and food colors, corn, citrus, artificial flavors and sweeteners and MSG. They may also benefit from including some nutritional supplements in with their diet such as magnesium,zinc, vitamins B and C, essential fatty acids, and amino acids.

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There is no certain single way to medicate or treat Tourette syndrome. Doctors have been trying to piece the puzzle together for years and it looks as if they will for many more to come. Although there have been many breakthroughs they have come without overall consistency. First of all, there is no "cure" for Tourette syndrome. There are ways to help treat it on the other hand. The focus of treatments is to target tics or other disorders linked to Tourette syndrome. OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) are both closely related to Tourette syndrome.
Therapies outside of pharmaceuticals have a wide range. All the way from basic behavioral realignment to procedures that involve implanting an electrical device into the brain. CBIT (comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics) is one approach that is used in therapy. It is basically a way of retraining the patient to avoid triggering tics. One of the behavioral therapies that I found most interesting is called competing-response. Competing response is where the patient learns a voluntary behavior which in turn interferes with the tic response. The desired outcome is to break the tic cycle altogether. The other common approach is called tic awareness therapy. Tic awareness therapy trains the patient to recognize indicators of the tic and preemptively keep the tic from occurring on a conscious level.
Pharmaceuticals play a part in treating Tourette syndrome also. Prescribing drugs can be tricky as far as really not knowing what drugs will be effective for that individual as a patient. Sometimes it comes to light that the patient is better off without drugs altogether. There is no single drug that works for everyone. That being said there is also no drug known to fully cure the symptoms either. A huge downfall of pharmaceuticals is the obvious side effects. Drugs prescribed are often targeted to treat other conditions that accompany Tourette syndrome such as OCD and ADHD. These conditions compiled with Tourette syndrome make the tics more intense. If you can help subside them the frequency of tics reduce. Most people are familiar with drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall, these are classified as stimulant medications. The stimulant medications are intended to help focus, increase ability to pay attention. Other drug treatment is through blocking of the dopamine receptors in the neurons. One example of the neurotransmitter inhibitors would be Haldol, probably one of the most common. Antidepressants are used in treatment also. Oddly enough Botox injections are used too! The Botox is injected directly into the muscle involved with the tics. I hope that I have been able to provide some insight into how Tourette syndrome is approached and treated. There is much to be learned still about Tourette syndrome and hopefully soon the sun will peek out over the horizon shedding light on this mysterious disorder.


Tourettes is a spectrum disorder. It ranges from mild to severe. For most mild symptoms, no treatments are required. In a study of 46 subjects that were 19 years of age, symptoms of 80% had minimum to mild impact on their overall daily functioning. The other 2-% experienced at least a moderate impact on their functioning.
People with tourettes have a normal life expectancy, regardless of their symptom severity. Another study showed that when using a videotape to record tics in the adult life, tics diminished in comparison with childhood and all of the measures of tic severity improved by adulthood. 90% of adults still had tics.
Children with tourettes are often looked at as "bizarre." For children with tics that interfere with social and academic functioning, school accommodations can be helpful. People with tourettes will most likely learn how to control their tics while in public or challenge their tics into a functional endeavor. Outcomes in adulthood are associated more with the perceived significance of having severe tics as a child than with the actual severity of the tics. These tics begin in childhood and subside with maturity.