Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterised by repetitive and involuntary movements and vocalisations or ‘tics’.
The cause is not yet known although differences in the neurotransmitters in the brain have been reported.
It is most commonly recognised between the ages of 2 and 21. Tourette’s affects males to females at a rate of 4 or 5:1. Mild symptoms are evident in about 1% of the population.
Tics, either simple or complex, are brief, repetitive movements eg. blinking or repetitive throat clearing. Tics can occur over a short or long term and may be mild, moderate or severe. The occurrence and presentation of tics may change over a period of months with one tic seemingly replacing another. Tourette’s can be diagnosed after symptoms have been present for around a year.
While repetitive movements are termed ‘involuntary’, most people with TS have some level of control over symptoms, often just preceding tics. Tics are felt as an increase of tension. They are irresistible and eventually must be performed. Students may display more tics with stress and fewer when absorbed in an enjoyable activity. Tics may be ‘simple’ and include motor or vocal tics such as blinking, jerky movements or grunting. More complex tics may include repetitive limb movements, jumping or biting oneself.
Vocal tics include:
Tourette Syndrome may occur with comorbid diagnoses such as:
Some medications may help to suppress symptoms but no medication treats all aspects. Behavioural programs can also be effective. Students may work effectively in the mainstream with only minor accommodations. Understanding the profile of a student with TS will assist in classroom management strategies.
Arranged for special provisions in assessment tasks – separate supervision?
Considered preferential seating near teacher or peer role model?
Displayed rules and expectations on classroom noticeboards?
Established a reward system and method for students to self-monitor progress?
Incorporated frequent revision activities and study notes?