Does my child have Tourette Syndrome?

Does my child have Tourette Syndrome?

Can you imagine how it must be like to not be in control of what you do or what you say? That's exactly how it is to be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.

Tourette Syndrome is something that you might have heard of, or might have seen, but chances are, you didn't know that it was Tourette.

What exactly is Tourette Syndrome?

In a nutshell, Tourette Syndrome, or more commonly known as TS, is a condition wherein the person suffers from involuntary outbursts (motor tics), or vocal outbursts (vocal tics). This means that a person suffering from Tourette can have moments where they lose control of what they say, and what they do.

According to Pediatric Neurologist Myrna Fojas, MD, from MakatiMed's Department of Pediatrics, "Vocal tics are involuntary sounds like coughing, sniffing, yelping or grunting,” while motor tics "can affect any part of the body. An example is involuntary eye blinking."

She adds that these tics can either be simple, or complex tics. Complex tics are sudden and brief movements, like eye blinking, or shoulder shrugging. Complex movements are complicated patterns of movements that involve several muscles.

How can I know if my child has Tourette Syndrome?

According to Dr. Fojas, "Most tics are mild, but some can worsen in stressful situations. Some tics can also cause pain and physical injuries to the person affected."

"TS usually begins in childhood between the ages five to eight, and can last for a lifetime. No direct cause is known, other than TS can be inherited. Further research is still being done to know the causes of TS. It may improve during the teen years," she adds.

She explains that diagnosing Tourette Syndrome involves checking the family's history, as well as a complete physical and neurological exam. There's no absolute cure to Tourette Syndrome, but Dr. Fojas shared that the tics can be managed through medication or therapy.

How can it be treated?

Dr. Fojas shares that behavioral therapy, which involves a type of therapy called Habit Reversal, is the most common intervention for tics. Habit reversal involves monitoring tics, and creating a habit or movement that doesn't occur at the same time as the tic.

An example would be if the tic is head rubbing, the new behavior be putting the hands on the knees or crossing their arms so that the head rubbing won't take happen. Reducing stress can also help people with Tourette Syndrome, as stress can aggravate tics.

Parents of children with Tourette Syndrome should also take it upon themselves to learn more about their child's condition, and do what they can in order to help their child manage their condition. It's also important to support your child and to help them whenever they're teased for their condition.

As Dr. Fojas shares, "People with Tourette Syndrome are constantly teased, hindering their chances at socialization and bonding with children their age. Understanding and having the initiative to know more about TS will not just help those affected but more importantly those around them. Having a condition like TS is not the fault of the person affected, nor is it the fault of their parents. It is simply a condition that must be managed and understood."

Source: Makati Medical Center

READ: 5 Warning signs of mental illness in children

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