Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Some quick facts about Tourette Syndrome

I know I am a few days behind in my posts for Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, but it is for good reason.  I wanted to share quite a bit of information that I thought would be better in one big post, rather than broken into daily posts.

Tourette Syndrome is not the result of bad parenting.  In fact, it is a neurological disorder which can be hereditary.  Symptoms typically occur before the age of 18, and most commonly start appearing between the ages of 2 and 15.  The most common characterization of Tourette Syndrome is the presence of tics, which are involuntary movements and/or vocalizations that repeatedly occur.  There is usually the presence of multiple tics, both motor and vocal tics, though they do not necessarily happen at the same time.  These can happen multiple times a day every day, or even coming and going over a course of time.  In order for the Tourette diagnosis to be given, the presence of these tics have to have occurred for at least one year.

With Tourette Syndrome, tics tend to follow a wax and wane pattern, meaning that they may suddenly appear, stay for a short period of time (or a long period of time), and then disappear, usually to suddenly return again at a later time.  They can also change in frequency and severity.  New tics can appear to replace old tics.  Tics can also increase in number and severity under certain circumstances, such as periods of high stress or exhaustion.

While tics tend to be involuntary, it is possible to control the tics for a period of time.  For example, some students can hold the tics in during the day at school.  However, when they reach their comfort zone (such as when they arrive at home), they must release the held back tics.  This can often result in outbursts of tics, and can even result in changes in mood.  Often times, holding in tics can also result in inability to concentrate.

It is important to remember that Tourette Syndrome is usually accompanied by a number of co-morbid disorders.  We will get into those in a future post.

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