Tourette syndrome is a disorder that causes tics, which are sudden, repetitive muscular movements and sounds.
Discovering that your child has Tourette syndrome can be scary for parents. The condition usually starts during childhood, but the tics and other symptoms usually improve after several years and sometimes go away completely. While currently there’s no cure for Tourette’s syndrome, treatment can help your child better manage their symptoms.
What are the causes of Tourette syndrome?
Tourette syndrome is a genetic illness, which means it is caused by a variation in genes that is either inherited (from parent to child) or occurs during feotus development. The condition causes alterations in the brain and communication issues between nerve cells. A disruption in the equilibrium of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that convey nerve messages from cell to cell) may also have a role.
Symptoms of Tourette syndrome commonly manifest in early childhood, between the ages of five and nine, and boys are more likely than girls to be affected. Many children and adolescents with Tourette syndrome have additional behavioural disorders, such as ADD, OCD, learning difficulties, or anxiety.
How is Tourette syndrome identified?
To be diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, a child must have numerous forms of tics for at least one year, including multiple motor tics (excessive eye blinking, grimacing, head jerking, and shoulder shrugging) and at least one verbal tic (repetitive throat clearing, sniffing, or humming). They may occur daily or intermittently throughout the year. A child with Tourette’s may need to see a neurologist, a specialist in nervous system disorders.
The neurologist may request that the child’s parents maintain track of the types and frequency of tics. Occasionally, imaging procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), electroencephalograms (EEG), and blood tests can rule out other illnesses that may cause symptoms similar to Tourette syndrome.
What treatments are available for Tourette syndrome?
Just as Tourette syndrome varies from child to child, so may its treatment. Most tics do not interfere with day-to-day life but, if they do, your child’s doctor may prescribe medications to alleviate symptoms. Seeing a therapist will not stop the tics, but it can be helpful for your child to talk to someone about their difficulties, learn how to better manage stress, and practice relaxation techniques.