What is Tourette Syndrome?
is a brain disorder characterized by involuntary movements and sounds
called "tics." Common symptoms include excessive eye blinking, grunting,
throat clearing, body twitches, and even involuntary outbursts of inappropriate
language, but there are many more symptoms that can exist. Although there
is no cure (yet), TS can be treated if properly diagnosed. Many individuals
with TS have one or more of the following disorders: ADHD (Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder), ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive
Disorder), or LD (Learning Disability).
- Gender Frequency. TS is six times more common in males than
- Age of Onset. The average age of onset of Tourette Syndrome
is 6.5 years. The average age of onset of coprolalia (the uttering of
obscene words) is 13.5 years; however, only 10 to 15 percent of individuals
with TS develop coprolalia.
- Symptom Control. Tics can be suppressed or controlled for seconds
to hours, depending on the severity of the case and the psychological
and environmental factors. Excessive control can produce an explosive
buildup which must be released. Anxiety, anger, excitement, fatigue,
physical illness and stress significantly increase symptoms, thereby
reducing the ability to suppress tics.
- Diagnosis. Today, the correct diagnosis of TS is often delayed
for more than 5 years [1996 data]. 60 percent of the diagnoses are made
by students with TS, parents, relatives, or friends who discover information
about the disorder in the media.
TS is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed by professionals because there
is a lack of knowledge regarding TS. Some professionals mistakenly consider:
- TS symptoms as a psychological problem
- Eye tics as a visual problem
- Sniffing, snorting, noisy breathing, nose wiping, nose twitching,
throat clearing, and coughing as symptoms of allergies and upper respiratory
- Coprolalia as a necessary symptom of TS
- Suppression or control of symptoms during office visits to negate
presence of TS
- Prognosis. TS is considered a chronic, lifelong disorder. The
course and duration of the disorder varies in individuals as much as
- 30 to 40 percent of patients have symptoms that disappear by late
- 30 percent have symptoms that decrease by late adolescence
- 50 percent have symptoms that persist in adulthood.