What is a Tic?
“…a sudden, rapid, recurrent, non-rhythmic stereotyped motor movement or vocalization.”
Prevalence of Tic Disorders
Studies have shown that between 12-18% of children are affected by tics. Studies also show that Tourette’s Syndrome may be as common as 1-8 children per 1,000 and occurrence of milder forms of the disorder known as chronic tic disorder (CTD) may be as high as 1.5-3%.
What kind of tics are there?
Simple Motor Tics
- Sudden brief, meaningless movements such as:
- Eye blinking, eye movements, grimace, twitch, mouth movements, head jerks, shoulder shrugs, rapid jerks, or twitches
- Specific muscle group
Complex Motor Tics (may be perceived as a voluntary behavior, but is not)
- Slower, longer, more “purposeful” movements
- Facial gestures, touching objects or self, arm thrusts, hand gestures, gyrating or bending, dystonic postures, copropraxia (obscene gestures)
- Multiple muscle groups
Simple Vocal Tics
- Sudden meaningless sounds or noises
- Throat clearing, coughing, sniffing, spitting, animal noises, grunting, hissing, sucking, other simple sounds
Complex Vocal Tics
- Sudden, more “meaningful” utterances
- Syllables, words, phrases (“shut up”, “stop that”)
- Coprolalia (obscene, aggressive words)
- Palilalia (echo self)
- Echolalia (echo others)
- Transient Tic Disorder
Tics occurring longer than 4 weeks but less than 1 year
- Chronic Motor or Vocal Tic Disorder
Motor or vocal tics (not both) occurring longer than 1 year
- Tourette’s Disorder
Motor and vocal tics occurring longer than 1 year
- Tic Disorder, NOS
Tic disorder not meeting any of the above criteria
Treatment for tic disorders was done only by psychiatrists and neurologists in the past, and medications were the treatment of choice. Medications are effective in managing the symptoms. However, researchers and experts treating these disorders have discovered that Behavior Therapy for tic disorders can be very effective if the provider is trained to treat these disorders.
Treatment can consist of medication and behavior therapy. Function-based interventions are used to address external factors in an individualized fashion. Habit reversal training is used to address internal factors.
The training program is designed to help clients learn to manage their tics. It involves becoming aware of tics and the situations that make them worse. Thus, at Mindset Family Therapy we also use ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) to teach skills that include Mindfulness training to help clients learn to reduce stress.
Clients will learn to restructure their environment to make tics less frequent as they learn specific exercises to help decrease the tics. It is possible to decrease the tics, but it requires commitment on the part of clients. Clients are taught techniques that need to be practiced not only during therapy sessions but every day in order to begin making progress. The program is designed to be eight weeks long. This allows you to learn the skills and understand how you can help yourself in the future.
[Information partly gathered from Susanna W. Chang, PhD]