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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Tics & Tourette syndrome

A boy grimaces during a tic Tics are sudden, repetitive movements or sounds. People often do not realise that they're doing them, and they're not on purpose.

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. Tamariki (children) often grow out of tics, or their tics improve a lot by the time they reach adolescence.

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

Tourette syndrome

Tourette syndrome, or Tourette's, is a brain disorder in tamariki children that causes both vocal and physical tics which keep happening for 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 tamariki get older, and most tamariki 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. Last reviewed November 2021.

Page reference: 142250

Review key: HITAT-142250