Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder that often can be recognized by the involuntary movements and sounds of the sufferer. These sounds and movements of Tourette syndrome are commonly called tics.
The involuntary movements, or motor tics, primarily will affect the mouth, the face, the head and neck muscles, but most of the body can also be affected.
Simple tics such as strong blinking of the eyes, or more complex ones like bending of the body, thrusting of the arm, kicking, shrugging or jumping can take place.
Sounds, or vocal tics, are repetitive and involuntary, often without meaning, whether these sounds are throat clearing, grunts, sniffing, or whole phrases being repeated.
Obsessive-compulsive acts like hand washing, hoarding and rituals of various kinds are often associated with Tourette syndrome. Many with TS also struggle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Three times more males than females have TS.
The type of tics people generally associate with Tourette Syndrome are involuntary swearing (coprolalia), involuntary use of obscene gestures (copropraxia), involuntary echoing of the speech of other people (echolalia), involuntary mimicry of others (echopraxia) and involuntary repetition of their own speech (palilalia).
The symptoms of Tourette Syndrome usually appear before 18 years of age. For many people, their worst symptoms may happen during their teen years, and by the late teens and throughout adulthood, symptoms will often have begun to ease. Some will even become symptom free.
Until the recent past Tourette Syndrome was viewed as a psychiatric problem but fortunately research into TS has brought some of the biological factors to light and it has now been classified as a neurological disorder.
Family and individual counselling may hold some value, in dealing with the interpersonal problems that come with Tourette syndrome.
There are medications that have been used by some people with Tourette Syndrome, but these may often have side effects that can prove to be hard to live with.
And some people with TS refuse to take medication because they find some of the side effects to be just as difficult to live with as their TS symptoms, or possibly even worse.
It is no small burden for the sufferer of Tourette Syndrome to carry. And equally burdensome for their families and loved ones.
Nevertheless, while some individuals must deal with severe symptoms, the majority of people with TS will deal with milder symptoms. Most will be able to live functional and productive lives.
What is Tourette Syndrome?
NINDS Tourette Syndrome Information Page
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