5 Misconceptions About Tourette Syndrome and Tics

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Many people think that Tourette Syndrome is when a person swears uncontrollably. They assume this because Tourette Syndrome is commonly joked about by comedians or mainstream movies and TV shows. In reality, the shouting of obscene words is uncommon in most people with Tourettes. There are also several other misconceptions that many people, including those who work with children, are unaware of. Tourette Syndrome is defined as a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent involuntary movements, including multiple neck jerks and sometimes vocal tics, as grunts, barks, or words.

Having a child that struggles with both motor and vocal tics has influenced me to do a lot of research on this topic. Unfortunately, I haven’t come across many great resources but I did come across a nice book from my local library that I will link here. The book is titled Kids in the Syndrome Mix of ADHD, LD, Autism, Spectrum, Tourette’s, Anxiety, and More by Martin L. Kutscher, MD. You can also purchase it on Amazon athttps://amzn.to/3ptJiua.  Most of the information in this blog comes from this book. 

Misconception #1: Tourette Syndrome means that you have a problem with saying obscenities uncontrollably. 

Fact: Coprolalia, the shouting of obscene words, is uncommon with most people who have Tourettes. Most people who have Tourettes have other involuntary sounds or movements like coughing or neck rolling.  

Misconception # 2: Tourette Syndrome is life-threatening. 

Fact: Tourette Syndrome is not progressive. It does not cause or deterioration or loss of function to organs or tissues. It does not shorten your life span. It also does not impair intelligence. 

Misconception #3: Anxiety and stress cause tics. 

Fact: We often hear the phrase, “nervous tics”because some tics are triggered by stress. Yet, many tics are not associated with stress.Many people will tic while they are relaxed and anxiety-free. 

Misconception #4: Reminding a child to stop their tics will help them.

Fact: People can not just stop and start their tics. Tics occur without thought. It is useless to try to control someone who has tics because most people with tics don’t realize they are doing them. Instead, it is more important to let children be themselves and offer empathy to them. 

Misconception #5: Children with Tourette Syndrome are bad students. 

Fact: Most children try to suppress their tics because they are scared of being made fun of by their peers. When they suppress their tics they have to concentrate on not doing them. This may make them seem like they are inattentive. Educators should try to accommodate their students and be empathetic towards them.  

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