Research Scientist

Tourette Syndrome


Tourette’s syndrome:  “A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that 1 of every 360 (0.3%) children 6-17 years of age in the United States have been diagnosed with TS based on parent report; that is about 138,000 children” (data from a study done 2011-2012; source: (cdc) TS is a neurological disorder characterized by multiple involuntary movements, called motor tics, and uncontrollable vocalizations called vocal or phonic tics. Early symptoms are almost always present in childhood, with average onset between 7 and 10 years.   Males are affected 3 to 4 times more often than females.  (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH)

TS symptoms often change periodically in number, frequency, type and severity, and can disappear for weeks or months at a time. Motor tics include eye blinking, head jerking, shoulder shrugging and facial grimacing, while vocal tics include throat clearing, sniffing or tongue clicking. Tourette Syndrome affects all races and ethnicities. No definite cause has been established, but it is linked to abnormal metabolism of at least one brain chemical called dopamine. Diagnosis is made by observing symptoms and evaluating the history of their onset, as no medical test can identify this condition. Genetic research indicates that Tourette Syndrome is inherited as a dominant gene, with approximately 50% chance of the gene passing from parent to child.

While there currently is no cure, medications are available to help control symptoms. These include anti-hyperactive drugs, atypical neuroleptics, neuroleptics, and anti-depressants, almost all of which have no FDA indication for treating this disorder.  Many people with TS find that symptoms improve as they mature into adulthood, and a few find symptoms go into remission entirely.

Children with TS generally have the same IQ range as unaffected children. Special education assistance may be necessary if issues dealing with tics, in combination with learning disabilities, arise. Under federal law, the student may qualify for an Individual Education Plan if identified as a "child with a disability” under the other health impaired category. On the whole, those with TS lead productive lives and can anticipate a normal life span. Despite various challenges, many reach high levels of achievement in a wide range of career fields. 
(Source: Tourette Syndrome Association)




·       National Tourette Syndrome Association

·       NIH Medline Plus:  Tourette Syndrome  

·       KidsHealth:  Tourette Syndrome

·       CDC Kids' Quest:  Tourette Syndrome


Updated 6-20-19 

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