is a problem in which a part of the body moves repeatedly,
quickly, suddenly and uncontrollably. Tics can occur in any
body part, such as the face, shoulders, hands or legs. They
can be stopped voluntarily for brief periods. Sounds that
are made involuntarily (such as throat clearing) are called
vocal tics. Most tics are mild and hardly noticeable. However,
in some cases they are frequent and severe, and can affect
many areas of a child's life.
common tic disorder is called "transient tic disorder," which
may affect up to 10 percent of children during the early school
years. Teachers or others may notice the tics and wonder if
the child is under stress or "nervous." Transient tics go
away by themselves. Some may get worse with anxiety, tiredness,
and some medications.
do not go away. Tics which last one year or more are called
"chronic tics." Chronic tics affect less than one percent
of children and may be related to a special, more unusual
tic disorder called Tourette's Disorder.
with Tourette's Disorder have both body and vocal tics (throat
clearing). Some tics disappear by early adulthood, and some
continue. Children with Tourette's Disorder may have problems
with attention, concentration, and may have learning disabilities
as well. They may act impulsively, or develop obsessions and
people with Tourette's Disorder may blurt out obscene words,
insult others, or make obscene gestures or movements. They
cannot control these sounds and movements and should not be
blamed for them. Punishment by parents, teasing by classmates,
and scolding by teachers will not help the child to control
the tics but will hurt the child's self-esteem.
a comprehensive medical evaluation, often involving pediatric
and/or neurologic consultation, a child and adolescent psychiatrist
can determine whether a youngster has Tourette's Disorder
or another tic disorder. Treatment for the child with a tic
disorder may include medication to help control the symptoms.
The child and adolescent psychiatrist can also advise the
family about how to provide emotional support and the appropriate
educational environment for the youngster.
information about Tourette's Disorder is available from
Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc.
42-40 Bell Boulevard
Bayside, NY 11361-2861
information see Facts for Families:
#6 Children Who Can't Pay Attention
#21 Psychiatric Medication for Children
#52 Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation, and
#47 The Anxious Child.
See also: Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your
Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).
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