Tics and Tourette’s
Did you know that as many as 10 to 20% of children in primary school develop tics? Mostly these are single habits such as eye blinking, throat clearing, pulling faces or cracking knuckles and they tend to last for a short period or a child will typically grow out of them in adolescence.
Tourette’s Syndrome, however, is a neurological condition which is characterised by multiple physical or motor tics plus at least one vocal tic and is much less common, thought to affect about one in 100 people in the UK. Only a small fraction develop Coprolalia which is where swearing is involved, even though this is probably the most common stereotype of the condition.
If you notice your child is developing a repetitive action or tic, it is important not to put pressure them. Trying to supress a tic can be enormously tiring and can lead to further stress and anxiety which in turn can make the tic worse. The child may already be quite self-conscious about this.
If the tic persists, gets worse or you notice additional tics, it is important to visit your GP. Tourette’s can occur alongside other conditions such as autism, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder or anxiety so they may want to consider a referral to a paediatrician. However, in the vast majority of cases, with sympathetic support, the child will grow out of it.