What is Tourette Syndrome
What are the signs and symptoms of
How is TS diagnosed
Is TS inherited
How do doctors treat TS
How do you deal with TS personally
Strategies for teachers
Don’t Swear By It!
People who have heard of Tourette
Syndrome usually think of the person who is
swearing or using inappropriate expressions.
Sometimes the term Tourette’s is used as a
“joke” for people who swear frequently but
actually that’s one of the less common
More common is how many people have TS
What is TS
TS is short for Tourette Syndrome, named after
a French neurologist, Gilles de la Tourette who
discovered the condition in 1885.
TS is a neurological disorder, or “Tic” disorder,
where a person has both a motor and a
Tics are uncontrollable, sudden, repetitive
movements or sounds that involve a certain
number of muscle groups or body parts.
What are the Signs and
“Mrs. Brown, Mary keep blinking her eyes, shaking her
head and making funny noises. She says she can’t help
it. Why doesn’t she stop?” “ Mary has TS.”
Tics are classified as either simple or complex. Simple-
are sudden, repetitive and brief. Complex - are distinct,
coordinated patterns of movement.
Simple tics might include eye blinking, throat-clearing,
barking, grunting, head jerking, sticking out tongue,
stuttering, arm or leg movements, etc.
Complex tics might include jumping, smelling or
touching objects, using swear words or gestures,
repeating other’s words, touching the nose, touching
other people or self, self harming behavior, anger, etc.
In addition, if you have TS, your tics may vary in
type, frequency, severity, worsen if your ill, stressed,
anxious, tired or excited.
They evolve into different tics over time
Worsen during pre-teen and teen years and
improve into adulthood.
Before the onset of a motor or vocal tics, you’ll
experience an urge called a premonitory urge.
This urge is uncomfortable such as an itch or
sneeze. Expression of the tic brings relief.
Sometimes with great effort, some people with TS
can hold back tics until they find a place to
How is TS diagnosed?
TS is often diagnosed when there is both a
motor and verbal tic present for at least a
year. Doctors call this “Chronic-Tic Disorder”.
TS is sometimes misdiagnosed as other
disorders or problems, such as eye blinking
related to vision problems, or yelling to
TS is an inherited genetic disorder.
Studies suggest that ADHD and/or OCD are
genetically related to TS.
How is TS Treated?
Doctors use a wide variety of medications to treat TS
depending on the severity and associated disorders.
Neuroleptics (drugs used to treat psychotic disorders)
are most effective.
Other medications that may help, but not shown to
be as consistently useful, include alpha-adrenerigic
agonist such as clonidine and guanfacine,
medications often used for hypertension; side effects
are less harmful so often used as “front line” agents
before proceeding to neuroleptics.
Behavior treatments such as awareness training and
competing response training can reduce tics.
Dealing with Tourette’s
Many people don’t understand TS. If people stare, it can
feel embarrassing, people might think the person is strange
or mental and people with TS might have to explain their
condition a lot, which can be frustrating.
Some helpful things to do to lessen tics include:
Get involved- tics are usually milder and less frequent when
engrossed in an activity such as Sports, hobbies, and
Creativity- activities such as writing, painting, or music help
Give a helping hand-use your special sensitivity to help
others and volunteer.
Find support and take control-be around others who
understand and take an active role in treatment.
Everybody Needs To Get On
It is critical that everyone including cafeteria
workers, teachers, bus drivers, substitutes,
crossing guards, coaches, guidance
counselors, janitors, along with parents learn
about and understand TS.
Training is critical for everyone in the school
setting and can be accomplished through an
in-service workshops conducted by a
volunteer from the local chapter of TSA or the
use of the TSA curriculum guide for educators.
TS in the Classroom
Guidelines for Educators
Look at the whole child – not the disorder.
Most children with TS are very intelligent and
want to be accepted and understood.
Don’t react with anger! Noises and
movement can be annoying but be
Be an adult role model. Show and teach the
kids in the classroom acceptance of the
Use caution in interpreting standardized test
Use parents as a resource and an ally
Open and less restrictive classroom-
allowing movement about the class
Testing in a separate location with time
limits waived or extended
The use of a computer/word processor
Frequent breaks out of the classroom to
allow for release of tics
Assignments broken into more manageable
The use of daily assignment sheet verified by the
Provide a refuge for times when symptoms
intensify and need to be released somewhere
Avoid abrupt transitions
Keep stress at a minimum
Help with social isolation – don’t allow situations
that emphasize the problem, like “picking
Tourette Syndrome has gain a lot of
attention in recent years.
Growing number of people are being
diagnose with TS
People with TS can have a rich and long
TS awareness and training can make a
world of difference in the life of a child
Harry, S. Abram, MD. (1995-2013). “Tourette
Syndrome”. Retrieved from
Suzanne, Bronheim, PH.D. (2003). “An Educator’s
Guide to Tourette Syndrome”. Retrieved from
Ellen, Meyers, M.Ed. (2005). “The School
Administrator: Ten Things to Know about Tourette
Syndrome”. Retrieved from http://Tsa-usa.org/for-
Mayo Clinic, (2012, August 10). “Tourette
Syndrome”. Retrieved from
Eleanor Pearl, (2007). “Matthew And The
Tics”. Retrieved from http://tsa-
Judy, Wertheim, MS, Spec. Ed., (2003).
“Tourette Syndrome in The Classroom.”
Retrieved from http://tsa-usa.org/for-teens-
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