Tourette's syndrome is a neurological condition characterised by a combination of involuntary noises and movements called tics.
Causes of Tourette's syndrome
- Tourette's syndrome is a complex neurological condition and it is not yet known what causes it.
- The condition is hereditary and a person with TS has roughly a 50% chance of passing it onto their children.
- So far no single gene has been convincingly identified and exactly how TS is inherited is not clear.
Symptoms of Tourette's syndrome
- Key features of Tourette's syndrome (TS) are tics, involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements.
- Each person with TS will have different tics and will experience diverse symptoms.
- 10% of people with TS have a swearing tic, which is called coprolalia.
- TS typically starts in childhood and the typical age of diagnosis in the UK is seven years.
- For about half the children with TS the condition will continue into adulthood. The other 50% will see a reduction in the symptoms of their TS by the end of their teenage years.
Treatments for Tourette's syndrome
- Although there is no cure for Tourette's syndrome (TS) there are reports of different drugs being used successfully in a small number of TS patients.
- Behaviour therapy is also a way of helping to control tics rather than taking medication and it is possible to use behavioural therapy alongside medical treatments.
- The emerging popular psychological treatment for TS is known as CBiT (Comprehensive Behavioural intervention for Tics).
- Tourette's syndrome is not caused by bad parenting or abuse.
- When children can suppress their tics at school this may lead to increased tics and behaviours at home.
- Home may be a safe place to let tics out. However, this does mean that homework can be especially hard.
- Try not to respond too much to tics as this can normalise them. However, often tics are humorous and it would be un-natural not to recognise this.
- It may be helpful to provide time and space for tics to be let out in private, thus lessening the build-up of tension.
- A ‘time out’ card would allow the student to go to the designated place without causing too much disruption if it becomes unbearable for them.
- Try to avoid seating arrangements where tics will cause the greatest disruption, for example the middle of rows or near something breakable.
- Sitting at the front of the class can improve attention but sometimes this makes the tics visible to everyone and so should be avoided.
Help with learning
- Modify tasks or requirements some activities are much harder for students with Tourette's syndrome. Especially handwriting and other activities requiring fine motor skills.
- Distribute instructions rather than asking students to copy long instructions or homework.
- Tics may make handwriting difficult do not mark the student down for poor handwriting.
- Exams are stressful for all students and especially so for a child with TS. Investigate and apply for special arrangements such as separate rooms or allowing rest breaks for exams.
- As TS often worsens at the age of transition this can be especially difficult and may well require extra planning and support.