This is a brand new service — your feedback helps us improve it.

What is Tools for Schools? How can the Inclusion Framework and OAIP support my setting?

Find out more on our info page

Tics and Tourette Syndrome


Tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly. People who have tics cannot stop their body from doing these things. For example, a person might keep blinking over and over, or, a person might make a grunting sound unwillingly.

Having tics is a little bit like having hiccups. Even though you might not want to hiccup, your body does it anyway. Sometimes people can stop themselves from doing a certain tic for a while, but it’s hard. Eventually the person has to do the tic.

Tics come in many guises.  Some affect body movement (motor tics) and others result in a sound (vocal or phonic tics).  Tics can be simple or complex.  Simple tics usually use one part of the body (for example squinting the eyes) and complex tics involve several parts of the body and can have a pattern (for example bobbing the head, while jerking an arm and then jumping up).

Examples of tics include:

  • blinking, wrinkling the nose or grimacing
  • shrugging shoulders
  • jerking or banging the head
  • clicking the fingers
  • touching other people or things
  • coughing, grunting, sniffing, humming, throat clearing
  • yelling out a word or phrase
  • repeating a sound or phrase      (

Tics are found in a spectrum of tic disorders as follows:

Transient tic disorder or provisional tic disorder –motor tics usually confined to the face and neck although other body parts may be affected; sometimes vocal tics are also present.  Tics only last a few weeks or months.

Chronic tic disorder – tics tend to persist rather than be transitory and can include blinking, sniffing or neck movements.  Tics occur for more than 1 year.

Tourette Syndrome – multiple motor tics and one or more vocal tics present for at least 12 months although not always concurrently.

A tic disorder not specified – tics are present, but do not meet the criteria for any specific tic disorder.

Last updated 10 August 2022

Did you find this page useful?