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What is Tourette’s?
Simply stated, it is a mixed vocal and motor tic
disorder (Kutscher, 2005, p. 148)
The following criteria must be met:
1. A combination of at least one vocal and two motor
2. Symptoms have lasted at least one year
3. Symptoms must appear before age 18
(Kutscher, 2005, p. 148)
What are tics?
According to Dr. Martin Kutscher, “Tics
are rapid, repetitive actions that just
happen to the child. They occur without
any prolonged forethought by the person.
Typically, tics tend to come and go, and
change from one to another over time”
(2005, p. 147).
Types of Tics (Kutscher, 2005, p. 147-48)
Motor tics: Involve movements
Simple: Involve singular muscle movements
Examples: eye blinks, eye rolling, neck thrusts
Complex: Involve muscle movements with multiple
Examples: body twisting or hopping
Vocal tics: Involve noises
Examples: throat clearing, echoing what was said,
coprolalia (involuntary shouting of obscenities)
More About Tics
According to Kutscher, tics are variable. They
come and go inconsistently and may reappear
as new tics each time. Children can also
temporarily suppress tics subconsciously, like
during a school performance, but it is useless to
try and ask them to try to suppress their tics
knowingly (2005, p. 150).
Tourette’s in Childhood
Tics are often less severe in adolescence
and adulthood (Murray, 1997, p. 617).
Tourette’s also frequently occurs
concurrent with other disorders, such as
ADD (Murray, 1997, p. 616).
What can we do?
Kutscher suggests a few things that teachers can do to
help students with Tourette’s (2005, p. 152-53).
1. Educate other students by holding an open
discussion about Tourette’s and tics.
2. Allow the student to leave the room if tics become
3. Offer extra time to complete work, and offer
alternative methods of testing for students who
struggle with tics which affect reading and writing.
What can we do? (cont.)
4. Provide extra supervision to help prevent bullying
at recess or lunch hour.
5. Allow the student to sit where they do not feel on
display. They may prefer to sit near the back so
tics are not noticed by an entire class.
6. Teachers should model acceptance of tics so
students will follow suit, and never as a student to
leave the room because of their tics.
(Kutscher, 2005, p. 152-53)
When dealing with student peers, I think that
education on the disorder is one of the most
important steps in adapting to students with
Tourette’s. If a student is too affected by the
perception of those around them, they will not
be as successful in class.
In a study carried out by Woods, Koch, and
Miltenberger, it was discovered that individuals
who had received education about Tourette’s
and tics were more positive and accepting of
individuals with Tourette’s (2003).
Kutscher, M. L. (2005) Kids in the Syndrome Mix of
ADHD, LD, Asperger’s Tourette’s Bipolar, and
More! Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Murray, J. B. (1997). Psychological Aspects of Tourette’s
Syndrome. Journal Of Psychology, 131(6), 615-
Woods, D. W., Koch, M., & Miltenberger, R. G. (2003). The
Impact of Tic Severity on the Effects of Peer
Education About Tourette’s Syndrome. Journal Of
Developmental & Physical Disabilities, 15(1),