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Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome is an inherited neurological condition which affects one in every hundred children and young people.   The main signs are motor tics and vocal tics which have been present for over 12 months.  Boys are more likely to be affected than girls. TS is a complex condition and up to 85% of people with the condition will also experience co-occurring features and conditions which might include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive compulsive Disorder (OCD), Autism, Anxiety, Rage. The profile for each individual with TS is therefore very different. It is the comorbid presentation of a child with TS that can make TS difficult for children, their families and their school to manage.

TS is often misunderstood as a condition which makes people swear, or say socially inappropriate things. Although it is true that ‘coprolalia’ – the clinical term for involuntary swearing – is a symptom of TS, it only affects a minority of people. 90% of people with TS do not have coprolalia.

Parents of children with TS typically notice tics in their children at six – seven years of age. Symptoms usually begin when a child is 5 – 10 years old. The first symptoms often are motor tics that occur in the head and neck area. Tics are usually worse during times that are stressful or exciting. They tend to improve when a person is calm or focused on an activity. The types of tics and how often a person has tics changes a lot over time. Even though the symptoms might appear, disappear, and reappear, these conditions are considered chronic (Tourettes Action)

Useful resources

Tourettes Action: Provides information for teachers and includes resources, top tips, advice and downloadable lesson plans and guidance.

Great Ormand Street Hospital have created an information sheet regarding diagnosis, treatment and associated conditions. It includes links to several useful documents including:

An introduction to Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome and ADHD

Tourette Syndrome and anger management

Tourette Syndrome and managing your own tics

Last updated 11 August 2022

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