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HealthInfo Canterbury

Tics & Tourette syndrome

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Tics are sudden, repetitive movements or sounds. People are often not aware that they're doing them, and they're unintentional. Tics can be physical (such as blinks, sniffs or facial movements), or they can be vocal (such as noises, grunts or words). They are physically harmless, but they can be embarrassing. Children often grow out of tics, or they improve a lot by the time they reach adolescence.

Occasionally tics are associated with other behavioural issues such as anxiety, ADHD or Tourette syndrome. If you have any concerns about your child, talk to your GP.

Tourette syndrome

Tourette syndrome, or Tourette's, is a brain disorder in children that causes both vocal and physical tics which last more than a year. Tourette's is a specific disorder that is usually diagnosed by a specialist. Many people have tics without having Tourette's.

Tourette syndrome often goes away or improves considerably as children get older, and most children and teenagers with it do very well. Only a few people have continuing, severe problems with Tourette syndrome. The cases you may see online through social media such as YouTube are extreme and not common.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by paediatric neurologist, Canterbury DHB. Updated September 2016.

Page reference: 142250

Review key: HITAT-142250