Pediatric Tic Disorders

Tic disorders are neurological conditions marked by repetitive, involuntary muscle movements and sounds. One example of a tic disorder is Tourette syndrome. With tic disorders, a child will feel the need to perform unusual acts, such as blinking, sniffing or making sounds.

What are Pediatric Tic Disorders?

Tic disorders cause involuntary movements that can be triggered during periods of anxiety, excitement or physical stress. Tics may vary in frequency, location and severity over the years. Typically, motor tics develop before vocal tics.

Children with tic disorders can stop from performing these movements briefly but eventually feel compelled to act on them. If tics are controlled for longer than a few seconds, the need to perform the movement grows stronger and stronger.

Tic disorders are typically diagnosed between the ages of 3 to 9 years and the symptoms last a lifetime, though they often fade in their 20s. Males are impacted approximately three to four times more than females.

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Tic Disorders?

Symptoms of a tic disorder will typically be worse in the early teen years and include the following:

  • Uncontrolled blinking
  • Shoulder shrugging
  • Repetitive throat-clearing or grunting
  • Head bobbing or twisting
  • Facial grimace with head twist and shoulder shrug
  • Hopping
  • Repetitive phrases, including swearing
  • Self-harm

How are Pediatric Tic Disorders diagnosed?

Doctors rely on observing patients and studying their medical history to diagnose a tic disorder. Doctors do not order tests outside the exam room in most cases.

To be diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, a person must have a history of at least two motor tics (movements) and one vocal tic for more than a year.

What are the causes of Pediatric Tic Disorders?

Research isn’t conclusive on what causes tic disorders.

How are Pediatric Tic Disorders treated?

Counseling-based therapies are used to treat some people with tic disorders. Medications can also be helpful.

Pediatric Tic Disorders Doctors and Providers