It is estimated that 20-30% of people with Autism will be affected by vocal or motor tics, Tourette disorder or involuntary movement disorder. These issues can occur in conjunction with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Epilepsy.
Involuntary- the person has no control over them
Affect social interaction
Can be either highly embarrassing for the person or may not bother them at all
May wax and wane- i.e. be worse at some times and better at others- i.e. be Are very evident when under stress or tired.
Are often annoying for the persons family and friends
- Sometimes tics are treatable with medication
- Tourette disorder is life long but not degenerative
- Some people have some control over their tics but only for short amounts of time, the tic then has to be released and a burst of tic behaviour may follow .
Tics are not often violent or include swearing like in the movies.
Tics are classified as
Motor: Rapid eye blinking, facial grimacing,
Vocal: Throat clearing, Sniffing, Yelping, Shouting, and Grunting
Motor- Jumping, touching people or things, twirling about, tapping,
Vocal – Uttering words or phrases, uttering obscene words, repeating sounds or words just heard or repeating ones own words.
- Tic disorder is characterised by symptomatic episodes lasting no less than 12 months and the sufferer goes no more than 3 months without symptoms.
- Tourette disorder is characterised by the occurrence of chronic vocal and motor tics with onset around school age, and sometimes worsening at puberty.
- People with Tourette or tic disorder can have tics over a long period of time and they may be mild, moderate or severe. The variety or complexity of tics is vast.
- Other family members may have Tourette disorder or tic disorder.
What to do
- Discuss with a paediatrician or GP of you suspect tic disorder or Tourette disorder.
- Depending on the severity of the tics and the impact on the person’s life the doctor may prescribe medication.
- Physical activity or creative outlets can help re direct energy and lessen tics
- Reduce stress
- Get adequate sleep
- Speak with a councillor or psychologist regarding the impact on life as tics can often be socially isolating and can cause depression.
Tourette association of Australasia
Canianto R, Vivanti G , Tics and Tourette Syndrome in autism spectrum disorders Autism 2007 vol 11 91) 19-28