What is a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by motor tics and at least one vocal tic?
Tourette syndrome (TS or simply Tourette's) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple motor tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic. These tics characteristically wax and wane, can be suppressed temporarily, and are typically preceded by an unwanted urge or sensation in the affected muscles. Some common tics are eye blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing, and facial movements. Tourette's does not adversely affect intelligence or life expectancy.
Tourette's is defined as part of a spectrum of tic disorders, which includes provisional, transient and persistent (chronic) tics. Tics are often unnoticed by casual observers. While the exact cause is unknown, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are no specific tests for diagnosing Tourette's; it is not always correctly identified because most cases are mild and the severity of tics decreases for most children as they pass through adolescence.
In most cases, medication for tics is not necessary. Education is an important part of any treatment plan, and explanation and reassurance alone are often sufficient treatment. Many individuals with Tourette's go undiagnosed or never seek medical care.