Tourette Syndrome

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  1. French neurologist Dr George Gilles de la Tourette first reported the syndrome in the medical literature in 1885. The symptoms of Tourette Syndrome (TS) are tics.
  2. Tics are repeated, chronic and involuntary movements and sounds. Someone with TS may be able to suppress them for a while but eventually they have to release the tics.
  3. The symptoms often decrease towards the end of adolescence.
  4. Coprolalia, the involuntary utterance of obscenities, affects only 10%-15% of people with TS.


  1. They usually appear in childhood between the age of 5 and 9.
  2. People with Tourette's syndrome might have both physical and vocal tics. Examples of physical tics:
    1. blinking
    2. eye rolling
    3. grimacing
    4. shoulder shrugging
    5. jerking of the head or other limbs
    6. jumping
    7. twirling
    8. touching objects and other people
  3. Examples of vocal tics:
    1. grunting
    2. throat clearing
    3. whistling
    4. coughing
    5. tongue clicking
    6. animal sounds
    7. saying random words and phrases
    8. repeating a sound, word or phrase
    9. swearing

Reasonable Adjustments

  1. Prevent teasing at all costs.
  2. Allow extra time to prevent stress.
  3. Provide time out when tics become disruptive.
  4. Have a discreet sign so the pupil can leave to release tics in private.
  5. Encourage the student to monitor him- or herself so (s)he knows when (s)he needs a break.
  6. Allow him or her to sit at the back to prevent staring.
  7. Be aware that reading can be affected by eye/neck tics.
  8. If loud, vocal tics are a problem, allow him or her to miss large, quiet times such as assembly.
  9. Make use of a computer to cut down on handwriting.
  10. Use multi-sensory strategies, especially practical activities.
  11. Pair with a mentor —especially if the tics would make an activity unsafe, such as a science experiment.
  12. Be watchful for depression.
  13. Do not punish a tic!

Further Reading