What do you think of when you hear the word "Tourette"? Is it someone yelling curse words and profanities? Or maybe it is someone making obscene gestures. That is generally what most people think of when they hear the word Tourette. That is how the media portrays Tourette Syndrome in television shows, movies and in songs.
BUT...this is not an accurate depiction of what Tourette Syndrome is. Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder. TS causes uncontrollable motor and verbal tics.
Tics are involuntary, repetitive movements and sounds. Motor tics are body movements such as eye blinking, head nodding, and shoulder shrugging. Vocal (phonic) tics are sounds such as grunting, sniffing, and throat clearing. Tics can be simple or complex. Complex tics involve multiple muscle groups.
• Tics typically emerge between the ages of 5-7, most often with a motor tic in the head or neck region.
• Tics may increase in frequency/severity between the ages of 8-12. Many people with TS can show improvement in tics in late adolescence.
• TS is a medical condition and someone with TS CANNOT control their tics.
• Tics can range in severity and frequency.
• Tics can change in type.
• Tics can be debilitating or can cause self-harm.
• Tics can be in response to the environment, not limited to specific internal or external factors such as stress, excitement, fatigue, or illness.
• TS is complex with a unique set of tics that will wax and wane.
• 1 out of 160 children between 5-17 have Tourette Syndrome.
• 1 out of every 100 children have either Tourette Syndrome or another tic disorder.
• About 50% of children with Tourette Syndrome go undiagnosed.
• 80% of people with Tourette Syndrome have comorbid (co-occurring) symptoms such as ADD, ADHD, OCD, anxiety and depression.
• Coprolalia is the “swearing tic.” 10% of people with TS have Coprolalia. (What does that mean? It means that TS is not just someone walking around swearing. It is so much more complex than that.)
• The ONLY thing consistent with TS is that it is inconsistent.
To learn more on the statistics mentioned above, please visit The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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