is a problem in which a part of the body moves repeatedly, quickly,
suddenly and uncontrollably. Tics can occur in any body part,
such as the face, shoulders, hands or legs. They can be stopped
voluntarily for brief periods. Sounds that are made involuntarily
(such as throat clearing) are called vocal tics. Most tics are
mild and hardly noticeable. However, in some cases they are frequent
and severe, and can affect many areas of a child's life.
The most common tic disorder is
called "transient tic disorder," which may affect up
to 10 percent of children during the early school years. Teachers
or others may notice the tics and wonder if the child is under
stress or "nervous." Transient tics go away by themselves.
Some may get worse with anxiety,
tiredness, and some medications.
Some tics do not go away. Tics
which last one year or more are called "chronic tics."
Chronic tics affect less than one percent of children and may
be related to a special, more unusual tic disorder called Tourette's
Disorder or Tourette's Syndrome.
Children with Tourette's Disorder
have both body and vocal tics (throat clearing). Some tics disappear
by early adulthood, and some continue. Children with Tourette's
Disorder may have problems with attention, concentration, and
may have learning
disabilities as well. They may act impulsively, or develop
obsessions and compulsions.
Sometimes people with Tourette's
Disorder may blurt out obscene words, insult others, or make obscene
gestures or movements. They cannot control these sounds and movements
and should not be blamed for them. Punishment by parents, teasing
by classmates, and scolding by teachers will not help the child
to control the tics but will hurt the child's self-esteem.
Through a comprehensive medical
evaluation, often involving pediatric and/or neurologic consultation,
a child and adolescent psychiatrist can determine
whether a youngster has Tourette's Disorder or another
tic disorder. Treatment for the child with a tic disorder may
include medication to help control the symptoms.
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