Psychotherapeutic: While tics are involuntary, children can sometimes learn to suppress their tics through a kind of behavioral therapy called “habit reversal.” Habit reversal teaches children to recognize their individual tics and perform actions that are incompatible to them each time the tic impulse is anticipated. Other psychotherapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, can help children learn to cope with their Tourette’s syndrome as well as any co-existing disorders. In addition, peers and teachers can be educated about the condition so that they can provide caring support for a young person with the disorder.
Pharmacological: There are a variety of medications commonly prescribed to help control the symptoms of Tourette’s disorder, and an experienced professional should closely monitor any course. Your child’s doctor may prescribe neuroleptic medications, which appear to help control tics by blocking the brain’s dopamine neurotransmitters. Co-occurring behaviors such as rage attacks and poor impulse control are sometimes treated with a class of medications called antihypertensives.
Involuntary obscene language (called coprolalia) is actually a rare symptom of Tourette’s. Fewer than 15% of people diagnosed with Tourette’s disorder will ever experience it.
Can tics be controlled?
Tics are involuntary. With effort and concentration children can sometimes suppress some of their tics. The goal of behavioral therapy is to help children anticipate their tic impulse and perform an action incompatible to the tic until the impulse has passed.
Will my child outgrow his tics?
Tics usually do improve with age. Some children outgrow their Tourette’s disorder after adolescence, although many don’t—it’s highly variable and unpredictable. In any case, Tourette’s can be extremely distressing for the child, so it’s a good idea to seek treatment as early as possible.
What causes it?
Researchers still aren’t sure exactly what causes Tourette’s, although [[abnormal]] brain function appears to be a factor. Children with a family history of the disorder are more susceptible.