Tourette Syndrome Child



Tourette syndrome (TS) is a type of tic disorder. Tics are sudden muscle movements or vocal sounds that can range from mild to severe. TS, a neurological condition, is usually diagnosed during childhood.


TS may be a genetic condition, passed from parents to children. This is still being studied. TS may also be linked to problems with dopamine levels, a chemical in the brain that sends signals to neurons.

Genetic Material
Chromosome DNA
TS may be inherited through genes, which make up DNA.
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Risk Factors

TS is more common in males. Risk factors include:

  • Family history of TS, other tic disorders, or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Low birth weight
  • Maternal factors, such as stress during pregnancy



Symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can occur suddenly and the length of time they last can vary. Tics may temporarily decrease with concentration or distraction. During times of stress, they may occur more often.

Tics can be muscle movements (motor tics) or vocal sounds (vocal tics). They can also be characterized as simple or complex. Here are some common examples:

  • Motor tics
    • Simple—eye blinking, facial grimacing, head jerking, arm or leg thrusting
    • Complex—jumping, smelling, touching things or other people, twirling around
  • Vocal tics
    • Simple—throat clearing, coughing, sniffing, grunting, yelping, barking
    • Complex—saying words or phrases that do not make sense in a given situation, saying obscene or socially unacceptable words (called coprolalia)

Your child may also have other related conditions, such as:

  • Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADD or ADHD)
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)


You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. Your child will probably be referred to a mental health expert. This person will evaluate your child.



Work with the doctor to create a treatment plan that is right for your child. Options include:

Education and Counseling

One important part of treatment is for the child and his family to learn about this syndrome. It is also helpful if the child’s teachers, classmates, and friends understand the condition.

Your child may also benefit from behavior therapy. This can include doing relaxation techniques and self-monitoring. A technique known as “habit reversal therapy” and other behavioral treatments have proven helpful for some children.


In most cases, medication is not needed to treat TS. If tics are severe and disrupt your child’s life, medications may be advised to reduce symptoms. If medication is ineffective or otherwise not right for your child, talk to your doctor about non-medication treatment options and if they are appropriate for your child.


There is no known way to prevent TS.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (TS—Child)


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke 

Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc. 


Tourette Syndrome Association of Ontario 

Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada 


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Tourette syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  . Updated June 10, 2015. Accessed December 21, 2017.

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