Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder that combines vocal and motor tics. Tics are defined as repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations and can be classified as either simple or complex. Below, you will find examples of both classes of motor movements:
Simple motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements that involve a limited number of muscle groups and may include:
- Eye blinking and other vision irregularities
- Facial grimacing or shoulder shrugging
- Head and/or shoulder jerking
- Simple vocalizations like repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing sounds, or grunting
Complex tics are distinct, coordinated patterns of movements involving several muscle groups and may include:
- Facial grimacing combined with a head twist and a shoulder shrug
- Complex vocal tics that include words and phrases
- Apparently purposeful movements like sniffing or touching objects, jumping, bending, or twisting
While most people with TS experience mild or moderate symptoms, a small percentage of those diagnosed with the disorder experience dramatic and disabling tics that can include self-injuring motor movements, coprolalia (uttering swear words), or echolalia (repeating the words or phrases of others). Some people with the disorder describe an urge or tension build-up that proceeds their tics. This is called a premonitory urge.
In order to receive a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome, symptoms of multiple motor tics and at least one verbal tic must be present for a minimum of one year and begin before a person's 18th birthday. Symptoms must not be better explained by another medical condition or substances like stimulants. For more information on symptoms and diagnosis, click here.
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