The child or adolescent with Tourette’s Disorder experiences involuntary motor and one or more vocal tics, which occur at some time during the illness but not necessarily together. The tics vary and change over time in frequency and complexity.
What are the symptoms or indications?
- Tics may involve different parts of the body (face, neck, shoulders, trunk, hands). The most common simple motor tics are blinking, shrugging, grimacing and nose-twitching. Some complex motor tics may appear purposeful, such as kissing, pinching, sticking out the tongue, touching, gyrating, making obscene gestures (called copropaxia). Simple vocal tics are meaningless sounds and noises, including grunting, tongue-clicking, hooting, and throat-clearing.
How does a tic disorder impact classroom performance?
- Child appears as if theyre not paying attention due to the energy and focus a child exerts to suppress the tics during the school day. Children with tics may also experience challenges with visual-motor integration, which may impact their handwriting. Depending on the types of tics a child presents, academic tasks may be impacted. For example, if the student frequently rolls their eyes or jerks their head, it may take them a very long time to read a short passage due to losing their place often. If the child presents with vocal tics, the student may inadvertently become disruptive in class and may experience embarrassment.
What can be done at school?
- Understand that the child cannot control the tics and is not purposefully trying to disrupt the classroom. Also understand that the reactions a child receives to his or her condition can influence the childs functioning. If the child feels ostracized or rejected, this may cause anxiety or stress, which may in turn increase the frequency of the students tics.
- Provide a calm and supportive environment. The child may need to leave the room at times if it becomes too difficult to suppress the tics.
- Communicate with parents, especially if a change is noticed in the frequency, intensity, or duration of his or her tics.