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Tics Disorder and Tourette's Syndrome


Tics are repetitive movements or sounds that a person engages in and that are not intentional or under their direct control. Tics fall into a few categories including motor (movements), vocal (sounds), and complex tics which are a combination of various motor and/or vocal tics. 

Motor tics involve a simple muscle group. Some examples can include: blinking, shrugging or jerking a leg or arm. Vocal tics are characterized by simple noises such as repeating a sound, phrase or word. Complex tics can include multiple motor or vocal tics and may look like touching or tapping, uttering whole words, shouting obscene words or echolalia. In Tourette’s Syndrome, tics are not necessarily more severe but rather there is the presence of both motor and vocal tics. 

Tics are neurological and influenced by the environment.  With regard to prevalence, 10-25% of school age children will have a tic at some point as well as .6% of the population, and they are more common in males. Some common comorbidities include OCD which occurs in 30-60% of Tourette’s patients, and 60% of people with tics also have ADHD. Anxiety is also common in this population. 

There are three diagnoses of tics in the DSM-5:

  • Provisional tic disorder: When a motor or vocal tic has been present for less than a year. 

  • Persistent (sometimes called chronic) motor or vocal tic disorder: When a single or multiple motor OR vocal tics, but not both, have been present for at least one year. 

  • Tourette's syndrome (TS, sometimes called Tourette’s disorder): involves repetitive motor tics (two or more) and at least one vocal tics that have been present for one year or longer. 

Common misconceptions about tics:

  • Even though many people may be familiar with the stereotype of tics presenting as the shouting of obscene words (coprolalia) this is present in only 10% of tic cases. 

  • Tics are often misdiagnosed as allergies and often first treated by a physician as such.

  • Tics do not require the presence of other psychiatric problems.


If one or more of the above symptoms are present for you, please know you don't have to suffer and treatment is available. We provide CBIT (Comprehensive Behavioral Interventions for Tics) which research shows provides the best results for the treatment of tics. CBIT is tailored to meet your own individual needs. We provide in-office sessions, as well as telehealth sessions.

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