Tourette Syndrome in Children

For children with Tourette syndrome there are a number of treatments that can help control tics, manage behavioral issues and improve quality of life.

Remarkable Care for Kids

  • Expert care: Specialists in the Rush Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center are internationally known for treating and managing tics and Tourette syndrome. And the neurology and neurosurgery programs at Rush are consistently ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics: The tic disorders group at Rush includes physicians and a neuropsychologist trained in comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT).
  • Treatment for emotional and behavioral problems: Psychiatrists and psychologists at Rush specialize in treating the emotional and behavioral problems often associated with Tourette syndrome.
  • Access to clinical trials: At Rush, you’ll have access to clinical trials and research programs to help manage your child's condition and improve treatments for others with Tourette’s.

What is Tourette syndrome?

Tourette syndrome is a condition that causes tics — sudden and uncontrollable twitches, movements or sounds.

Tics typically begin in early childhood and tend to get less severe by early adulthood; however, they can significantly affect quality of life at all ages. 

Types of uncontrollable tics

There are different types of uncontrollable tics:

  • Motor tics: Body movements in one muscle group (e.g., eye blinking, shoulder shrugging)
  • Complex motor tics: Movements that involve multiple muscle groups (e.g., kicking, jumping)
  • Vocal tics: Making noises (e.g., grunting, throat-clearing)
  • Complex vocal tics: Outbursts of words or phrases (e.g., repeating words, swearing)

Tourette syndrome: what you should know

  • It is possible — but quite uncommon — for people with Tourette syndrome to have outbursts of inappropriate or obscene language.
  • Motor tics begin between ages 3 and 8.
  • Stressful or stimulating situations can cause tics to worsen.
  • The following behavioral and emotional problems often accompany Tourette syndrome:
    • Anxiety
    • Attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    • Depression
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Although tics typically decrease into adulthood, associated behavioral disorders can cause additional problems throughout adulthood.
  • There are a number of treatments that can help control tics, manage behavioral issues and improve quality of life.

How can I get help for Tourette syndrome?

For young children

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if your child has any of these first signs of Tourette syndrome:

  • Nose twitching
  • Rapid eye blinking
  • Shoulder shrugging

Having these symptoms does not mean your child has Tourette syndrome. Other conditions can have similar symptoms. Your doctor at Rush can help you determine the root of your child’s problem.

For children, teens and adults

Tourette syndrome specialists at Rush are committed to providing you with the care you need to manage your tics and live a full life with Tourette syndrome.

Care for Tourette syndrome at Rush

Specialists at Rush will develop an individualized treatment plan that can include one or more of the following:

  • Oral medications: Help manage tics and emotional and behavioral conditions associated with Tourette syndrome.
  • Comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT): Behavioral therapy that helps increase your or your child’s sensitivity to the urge and helps you learn to substitute a more acceptable response to the urge.
  • Family counseling: Help you or your child and your family cope with and manage behavioral problems associated with Tourette syndrome.