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Teaching your class about TS






Note: These terms and definitions are complex and sometimes confusing.  Please view them with an adult.


Clonic Tics-brief jerking motion like blinking eyes or shrugging shoulders.  This is what most people think of when they think of a tic.  There are other types of tics that don't involve this type of movement (see dystonic tics and tonic tics).


Coprolalia- A type of tic that involves unvoluntary uttering of obscenities or socially inappropriate phrases.  People with coprolalia don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings and don't get to pick the words that they say.  Unfortunately, many people think that all people with TS have coprolalia when actually it is rare (only about 15 out of 100 people with TS have coprolalia).  


Complex motor tic-sudden movement of longer duration.  Sometimes it looks like the person is doing it on purpose.  Some examples include facial gestures, brushing hair back, bending and jumping.  These complex motor tics rarely are seen in the absence of simple motor tics.


Complex phonic tic-can include syllables, words, or phrases, as well as odd patterns of speech in which there are sudden changes in rate, volume, and/or rhythm.  Complex phonic tics are rarely, if ever, present in the absence of simple phonic tics and motor tics of one sort or another.


Co-morbid- two separate conditions diagnosed in the same individual.


DSM-IV-TR-Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision- A manual giving all the diagnostic criteria (symptoms needed to say someone has the disorder) for mental disorders.  While TS is a neurological syndrome, it is still listed in this manual.


Dystonic tics-typically refers to a person holding an unusual body position.  An example of this is keeping the mouth or eyes open really wide.  


Echolalia- repeating other people's words or phrases.  In TS, this is a complex phonic ticIt can be part of what they heard or whole paragraphs (movies, song lyrics, other's conversations).  Sometimes the person will repeat with the same tone and rate of speech.  It can be repeated directly after they've heard it or weeks or months later.  Some amount of echolalia is a "normal" part of childhood development.  However, it can be a tic and is also characteristic of the speech of children with an autism spectrum disorder. 


Gilles de la Tourette- a French doctor (who would now be called a neurologist), who described nine cases of this disorder in 1885.  It is named after him because he was the first to describe these patients as having a movement disorder.


Motor tic-a tic that involves some form of movement (e.g. blinking, shoulder shrugging, facial grimacing, lip licking, jumping etc.).  There are two types of motor tics: simple and complex.


Neurological-dealing with the functioning of the brain


Neurologist- a specially trained doctor who diagnosis and treats disorders of the brain and nervous system.


Neuropsychologist- a psychologist who studies the relationship between the brain and behavior.


Palilalia- repeating your own words or phrases over and over.  In TS, papilalia is a complex phonic ticThought to have a compulsive component, you can often hear the person mumbling the word or phrase under their breath.  Some patients report repeating the word or phrase in their head even after they have stopped speaking it.  Palilalia is often seen Parkinson's patients, as well.


PANDAS-Stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.  This hypothesis states that some children with no prior history have a sudden explosion of tics, OCD, or other anxiety or mood disorders following strep throat.  The theory is highly controversial and further studies have been done that bring serious question to the original hypothesis.  Still, most believe that in some children there is something going on that leads to a sudden explosion of symptoms.  Further research is needed in this area before anyone can say with any certainty what is happening in these cases.


Phonic (or vocal) tic- a tic that consists of a sound, word, or phrase (e.g. coughing, yelping, humming, repeating phrases).  There are two types of motor tics: simple and complex.


Simple motor tics-sudden, brief (usually less than 1 second in duration) movements.  Common examples include eye blinking, facial grimacing, mouth movements, head jerks, shoulder shrugs, and arm and leg jerks.  Younger patients often are totally unaware of their simple motor tics.


Simple phonic tics-fast, meaningless sounds or noises that can be characterized by their frequency (how often), duration (how long), volume (how loud), intensity (how strong), and potential for disrupting speech (interfering with talking).


Stim or Stereotypies-movements typically seen in children with and autism spectrum disorder.  For a discussion about the difference between tics and stims or stereotypies go here.


Tics-"Tics are brief movements (motor tics) or sounds (vocal tics) that occur intermittently and unpredictably out of a background of normal motor activity."  Definitions and classifications of tic disorders, TSA 


Tonic Tics-keeping muscles tensed (i.e. abdominal, arms or legs)


Tourette's- Called by many names (Tourette's syndrome, TS, Tourette Syndrome,  Gilles de la Tourette's Syndrome, GTS), Tourette's Disorder is the official name in the DSM-IV-TR.  Tourette's onset is before the age of 18 and consists of both motor and vocal tics.  Tics must be present for over a year with no more than three months tic free.


Unvoluntary-a term that refers to an action that a person has limited control over.   For example, you can hold your breath for a while or keep from blinking for a while but eventually will have to blink or breath.  We refer to tics as unvoluntary because often a person can suppress (keep from doing them) for a while but will eventually have to tic.  It is not uncommon for a kid to suppress their tics in the classroom and then have a tic explosion at lunch, recess or when they get home.  


Vocal tic-see Phonic tic

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Teaching your class about TS



Disclaimer- I am "just a mom".  Every effort was made to insure this information was as accurate as possible.  However, no information found on any website should be substituted for the care of a licensed competent professional.


The official name of the condition, according to the DSM-IV-TR, is Tourette's disorder.
Tourette's is also referred to as TS, Tourette Syndrome, Tourette's syndrome, GTS, and Gilles de la Tourette's Syndrome.
You may also see it referred to as the Tourette Syndrome Spectrum Disorder,
but many proponents of this terminology include conditions in this alleged spectrum
which have not been shown to be part of or genetically linked to Tourette's syndrome.
Common misspellings are tourettes syndrome, tourretts, tourrettes, touretts, terrets, terets, turettes, and turrets syndrom.
Tourette's disease is another common misnomer (it's not a disease).
Another common misspelling is ticks: ticks are nasty beasts that bite dogs and people. People with Tourette's disorder have tics.


Thank you to TSNW for permission to use the copywrited wording above and for her countless hours of dedication to Tourette's education. 
Thank you to Haejinn for permission to print her story on how to tell kids about TS (found on the FAQ page).
Thank you to Haejinn, SLeaska, HBool, Glen625,Sabina0815, MaterialDiva, BlueChin and KBurra for their support and help getting this website up and running.  It was truly a collaborative effort.
Thank you  to Teri and Leah for their input and support.  Not only have you helped with this website but you have also supported us through this journey.  Words cannot thank you enough!
A huge THANK YOU to our son  for not only helping with this site but for teaching me more about life,  humility, and humanity than anyone else I know.


Copyright 2006.  All right reserved.
No part of this publication may be copied, re-printed, or used in any form without my prior written consent.
By Cristimo3: Growing Up With Tourette's Syndrome- Information for Kids