Special Needs

What is Tourette Syndrome and what are it's effects?

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. TS typically begins in childhood and affects boys more commonly than girls. The exact cause of TS is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Tics can be simple or complex. Simple tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements or sounds, such as eye blinking, throat clearing, or grunting. Complex tics involve a series of movements or sounds that may appear purposeful, such as jumping, twirling, or repeating words or phrases. Tics typically worsen during periods of stress, excitement, or fatigue, and may decrease or disappear during periods of relaxation or sleep.

In addition to tics, children with TS may experience other conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, or depression. Treatment for TS may include medications, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both, depending on the severity and type of symptoms. It is important for parents and caregivers to be patient, supportive, and understanding of children with TS, as the condition can significantly impact their daily lives and relationships.

Unique strengths

  • People with Tourette Syndrome can have a great sense of humor and be highly engaging and entertaining, making them popular and well-liked.
  • Many individuals with Tourette Syndrome have a high level of empathy and can be highly attuned to the emotions and needs of others.
  • Some people with Tourette Syndrome have excellent verbal communication skills and can be highly articulate and persuasive.

Scientific facts

  • Tourette Syndrome tends to affect boys more than girls.
  • Children with Tourette often have co-morbidities such as learning disabilities, obsessive compulsive disorder, or attention deficit disorder.
  • There is currently no cure for Tourette’s, but behavioural therapies can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.


  • Children with Tourette Syndrome may experience involuntary tics and vocalizations, which can be socially challenging and stigmatizing.
  • Individuals with Tourette Syndrome may struggle with anxiety and other emotional challenges, which can impact their academic and professional performance.

How parents and teachers can be more sensitive

  • Provide a supportive and inclusive environment that accommodates the unique needs of individuals with Tourette Syndrome, and works to reduce stigma and promote understanding.
  • Encourage individuals with Tourette Syndrome to express their emotions and needs, and provide a safe and non-judgmental space for them to do so.
  • Do not make fun of children that have certain tics, as this can lead to stigmatization and depression.
  • Be patient with children if it takes them multiple times to say a sentence due to the tics.


Besag, F. M., Vasey, M. J., Lao, K. S., Chowdhury, U., & Stern, J. S. (2021). Pharmacological treatment for Tourette syndrome in children and adults: What is the quality of the evidence? A systematic review. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 35(9), 1037-1061.

Du, J. C., Chiu, T. F., Lee, K. M., Wu, H. L., Yang, Y. C., Hsu, S. Y., ... & Leckman, J. F. (2010). Tourette syndrome in children: an updated review. Pediatrics & Neonatology, 51(5), 255-264.

McCann, B., Lam, M. Y., Shiohama, T., Ijner, P., Takahashi, E., & Levman, J. (2022). Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrates gyral abnormalities in Tourette syndrome. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 82(6), 539-547.