About Tourette Syndrome

Tics are sudden, involuntary and repetitive muscle movements. It could be categorized into simple motor tics, complex motor tics, simple vocal tics and complex vocal tics. While for Tourette Syndrome, it is a hereditary neurological disorder. The affected patients will have both motor and vocal tics lasting for more than 1 year. The onset is usually in childhood and genetic factor is a major known cause of Tourette Syndrome. Its clinical presentation is associated with high dopamine level, which leads to abnormal activity in the neuronal circuit connecting the frontal lobe and basal ganglia. Tics may impair the patient’s daily functioning and cause psychological distress.

Examples of different types of tics may include:

  • Simple motor tics: eye blinking, eye movements, facial grimacing, nose twitching, mouth movements, head jerks and turns, shoulder shrugging
  • Complex motor tics: slower and seemingly more purposeful movements, facial gestures, self-biting, hand gestures and prolonged gyrating
  • Simple vocal tics: throat cleaning, coughing, sniffing, spitting, grunting, sucking
  • Complex vocal tics: apparently more “meaningful” syllables, phrases and words; echolalia, coprolalia

MythBuster

1. “Tourette Syndrome only occurs in childhood and it would disappear gradually. Therefore, we need not be concerned about it”
Around 30%-40% of the patients would experience symptom remission as they grow up. However, around 30% of them would have symptoms persist into adulthood.

2. “Tourette Syndrome is contagious We should keep a distance from those with it”
Tourette Syndrome is not an infectious disease. It won’t spread via any kind of contact. Patients with Tourette’s Syndrome shouldn’t be isolated.

3. “Tics and epilepsy are the same thing.”
Tics and epilepsy are two different neurological disorders. Epilepsy is caused by sudden abnormal electrical activities in the brain. It may lead to loss of consciousness or impair the conscious level. Whereas for tics, only particular muscle groups are affected and the patients’ consciousness is maintained. Moreover, their treatment and prognosis are also different.

4. “Kids with Tourette Syndrome just deliberately produce the sounds and make the moves for fun.”
Tics are involuntary movements. Although the affected ones maybe able to suppress tics for a short while but it usually followed by a subsequent surge. Children with Tourette Syndrome shouldn’t be blamed for the symptoms that they suffered from.

5. “Tourette Syndrome could not be cured by medications.”
Medications such as dopamine antagonists help to relieve the symptoms by 50%~60%.

For patients with Tourette Syndrome

If you encounter bullies, please remember:

  1. To keep calm
  2. To talk to your parents
  3. You have the right to be safe, and being bullied is not your fault

Please do advocate for yourselves:

  1. “Tourette syndrome could not stop me from what I want to do!”
  2. “I could lead a normal life even with Tourette Syndrome.”
  3. “I have Tourette syndrome, but I have my own mastery.”

Useful links: