10 Signs of Tourette Syndrome
Tic disorders are surprisingly common in children with the highest prevalence in teenagers. Among teenagers, the rate is overwhelmingly high in toddlers. However, it’s not always easy to recognize tic disorders in children. Let’s take a look at the symptoms that can appear and what should be done when detected early.
Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary and repetitive movements and sounds, is a disease that is noticeable and uncomfortable for the individual and can cause concern about interpersonal relationships. The symptoms may disappear quickly, but in rare cases, they may persist into adulthood.
Typical Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome
Vocal tics involve sudden movements of the muscles in the throat, larynx, nasal cavity, and respiratory system, producing sounds. Simple vocal tics include sounds like spitting phlegm, snorting, or fake coughing, which are quick and meaningless. Complex vocal tics involve repeating words or phrases out of context. Motor tics can occur in any muscle and can move from one part of the body to another.
Treatment for Tourette Syndrome
When symptoms of Tourette Syndrome appear, the child and family must understand the tic symptoms. Often, children are scolded, but this is not something they can control themselves. It’s necessary to accurately identify the factors that trigger the tics and thoroughly check for neurological and internal problems. A careful diagnosis is needed as it often accompanies psychiatric problems such as depression and hyperactivity disorder.
Tourette Syndrome Included in Disability Recognition Standards
In April 2021, the government included Tourette Syndrome in the disability recognition standards through the amendment of the Disability Welfare Act. With this law amendment, the recognition standards for visual and mental disabilities that apply to the Disability Welfare Act have been expanded, ensuring the right to receive disability welfare services, and more people have benefited.
Transient Tic Disorder Often Disappears Before School Age
Tourette Syndrome usually shows symptoms before entering elementary school and many are transient tic disorders that disappear without persisting for more than a year, so there’s no need to worry too much. However, suppose the tic disorder occurs after elementary school, and motor and vocal tics appear together, not only on the face but also on the whole body. In that case, it is necessary to see a doctor.
Leaving Childhood Tic Disorder Untreated Can Lead to Tourette Syndrome
Many people think that tic disorders that appear in children will disappear if left alone, but this is not the case. It may appear temporarily for about 1-2 weeks, but if it persists for longer, it can cause great discomfort in interpersonal relationships, so treatment is necessary.
Do I Have a Tic Disorder?
Recently, there have been many issues regarding adult tic disorders. However, it is rare for tic disorders to first appear in adulthood, and they usually occur under the age of 18 and can be noticed around the age of 7. If you had a tic disorder when you were young and did not receive proper treatment, the hidden symptoms may reappear as an adult, which is why experts say it is more difficult to treat than in children.
Doing the Opposite of Tic Disorder Symptoms
If you suspect tic disorder symptoms, it’s good to try behavior therapy that does the opposite of your habitual symptoms. If you keep blinking your eyes, try to open your eyes wide, or if you kick your legs hard, try to keep a standing posture. This is one of the treatment methods called ‘habit reversal training’. You can also take medication, but since many are young children, it’s good to first try condition control and habit reversal training.
Mental Stability is Important
If the tic disorder is severe, all these symptoms function as stress and interfere with maintaining relationships or communal/social life, and you must receive treatment. Misunderstanding the symptoms of tics and trying to suppress the symptoms can make the person anxious, which can make the symptoms worse. The most important thing at this time is not to stress the child so that the tic symptoms do not get worse. Diverting attention to other games leading naturally, and getting into the habit of exercising regularly can reduce muscle movements.
Sensitive to Stress, Partly Genetic
Tourette Syndrome is largely influenced by genetic factors. The prevalence of tics in direct family members of children diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome is about 25%, and environmental factors also influence it. Tourette Syndrome can occur due to immunological factors, stress, hormonal abnormalities, etc., and there are consistent reports of research results that functional abnormalities of the cortical-subcortical-thalamic-cortical circuit, a neural circuit in the brain, are related to tic symptoms.
By. Shin Young Jeon