Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

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Tourettes syndrome

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Tourettes Syndrome


Tourette’s syndrome affects the brain and nervous system causing unplanned noises and movements called Tics. Tourette’s syndrome can run in the family and often start during childhood.

What does Tourettes look like?

Tics can be:

  • sounds/vocal – such as mumbling, coughing or shouting out words
  • movements/physical – such as jolting of the head or jumping up and down

They can also be:

  • simple – making a small movement or mumbling a single sound
  • complex – making a series of physical movements or speaking a long phrase

It is common to experience both physical and vocal tics which can range between simple and complex.

Tourette’s doesn’t affect your general health but physical tics can sometimes be painful. It can also sometimes lead to low self-esteem or troubles relating to emotional wellbeing.

When does it happen?

We don’t know what causes Tourette’s and it still remains unknown, but it’s said to be liked to a problem with part of the brain which helps guide our movements

What can I do?

The first step would be speaking to a trusted person about how are feeling; this could be family, friends, doctor, school nurse or counsellor.

You may be referred to your local CAMHS service where a plan will be put in place to support with your care. There are different behavioural therapies which can really help with controlling the condition:

  • Habit reversal therapy – involves looking at the patterns of your tics and thinking about what triggers them. This will help with finding an alternative movement or sound which is less noticeable but will relieve the sensation of the tic. This is known as a competing response.
  • Exposure with response prevention (ERP) – Putting yourself into scenarios where your tics are triggered to learn coping strategies to help control them more in the future.

When the tics are more frequent or severe, medication can help to improve them which you’re GP or CAMHS Psychologist can talk through with you.

For more information on Tourette’s syndrome visit NHS Choices or for some advice on how to get support phone Buckinghamshire CAMHS on 01865 901951

Last updated: 27 February, 2018

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