Tics are involuntary repetitive sounds or movements. Tics can be ‘simple’, involving one movement or sound, or they can be ‘complex’ which involve various movements and/or sounds.
Examples of simple tics:
Sudden movements of body parts such as moving the head
Blinking and winking
Touching one’s face repeatedly
Clearing one’s throat
Licking/ biting lips
Grunting/ screeching/ making unusual sounds
Examples of complex tics:
Performing things in a certain order or manner
A combination of simple tics
Saying words or phrases (particularly out of context)
Tics can be common in childhood, and will quite often improve without any intervention. Tics can both lead to, and be exacerbated by, stress or anxiety. Those who experience tics may also feel embarrassed and shame.
Tourette’s Syndrome is diagnosed when a person has multiple tics which have lasted for longer than a year, and impact on their wellbeing or functioning.
Things that might help someone who experiences tics:
It’s important to remember that often tics are involuntary (they are not doing it on purpose), so getting cross or frustrated and telling them to stop, will only add to their anxiety, frustration and shame. Try to be compassionate and understanding.
Finding ways to manage anxiety and stress can be very helpful. Some techniques and strategies which may be helpful can be found in the videos section below.
Watch a parent/carer workshop on how to support anxiety (below)
Watch a parent/ carer workshop on Getting good sleep (below)
Watch a video on Teenage Turmoil (understanding why being a teenager is so difficult) (below)
Share concerns with your child’s school/college, and identify whether additional pastoral support is available
Seek advice, guidance and support from Young Minds Parent Helpline: 08088025544
A pdf worksheet on ‘Tic Attacks and how to cope with them’ click here
More information and advice is available from Tourette’s Action; click here
More information and advice is available from Great Ormand Street Hospital; click here