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Tic disorders

Tics are involuntary, repetitive movements or sounds that are difficult to control.  Tics involving movements are called motor tics. Tics involving sounds are called vocal tics.  The type of tics that a person has may change over time. How often or how frequently tics occur also may change over time. Tics often come and go, and can get worse with feelings of fatigue, stress or anxiety.  Tics often first appear in early childhood, and they may wax and wane over time.

Tourette Syndrome is diagnosed when a person has a combination of both motor and vocal tics. Many tics are temporary, and tend to go away by themselves after a few weeks or months.  Sometimes tics can cause high levels of distress, can become a target for teasing, or can be physically uncomfortable or painful.


Some examples of tics include:

  • nose wrinkling
  • eye blinking
  • lip biting
  • facial grimacing
  • shoulder shrugging
  • kicking
  • skipping
  • jumping
  • mimicking movements by others
  • smelling or licking objects
  • coughing
  • throat clearing
  • grunting
  • sniffing
  • barking
  • hissing
  • repeating words and phrases
  • animal sounds
  • calling out
  • yelling

It is recommended that chronic motor and vocal tics are treated using a form of psychological therapy called Habit Reversal Training (HRT). There is no “cure” for tics or tic disorders, but psychological therapy can help individuals with tic disorders to learn how to manage their tics so that they are no longer as frequent, as noticeable, or as painful.