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What is Tourette Syndrome (TS) and how do I recognize someone who might have TS?

Kids Quest: Tourette

Boy ready for school

What should you know?

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a condition of the central nervous system. It causes people to have “tics”.

Tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly. People who have tics cannot stop their body from doing these things. For example, a kid might keep blinking over and over again. Or, a kid might make a grunting sound unwillingly.

Having tics is a little bit like having hiccups. Even though you might not want to hiccup, your body does it anyway. Sometimes people can stop themselves from doing a certain tic for awhile, but it’s hard. Eventually the person has to do the tic. Let's learn more...

Follow the 8 steps below for your Web Quest.

Step 1:See what you know about people with TS. Take the Fact Checkup!

Step 2:Think about some questions you might have about TS. Let's see...

Step 3: Check out some quick facts.

Step 4: Check out some great websites to help you learn more.

Step 5: Find out about people you can read about to help with your Quest.

Step 6: Learn about movies and books that can give you information.

Step 7: Check out your school and neighborhood.

Step 8: Now see if your attitudes have changed and if you know the right answers. Take the Fact Checkup again.

Let's see...

  • What is TS and why is it important for me to know about it?
  • What causes TS?
  • Can TS be cured?
  • What is it like having TS?

  • Can kids with TS go to regular school?
  • Who are some famous people with TS?

Can you think of more questions to help you in your Quest? Click here to write them down so you'll remember them as you move through this QUEST.

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Quick Facts

Quick FactsHere are some little known facts that can help you answer some of your Quest questions. Remember, these facts will give you only basic information. You'll need to search the Web further to find more in-depth information for your Quest.

  • The symptoms of TS generally become less severe during the late teen years. Among 20% to 30% of those with TS, the tic symptoms disappear entirely as the person with TS reaches his or her 20s.
  • During sleep, tics are fewer and less intense.
  • Most people with TS are able to hold jobs and lead full lives.

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World-Wide Web Search

CDC - Centers for Disease Control and PreventionCDC's website on Tourette Syndrome (TS)
Tourette syndrome (TS) causes people to have “tics”. Tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly. People who have tics cannot stop their body from doing these things.

Neuroscience for KidsNeuroscience for Kids
This site provides a definition of, facts about, a list of famous people with, and a short quiz about TS.

Kids HealthKidshealth Organization: Tourette Syndrome
Provides information about the symptoms of TS and how to get help for children.

Tourette Syndrome AssociationTourette Syndrome Association (TSA)
This site provides information for children with TS, and materials that might help educate their friends or classmates.

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The people featured on these websites below might be able to help you with your Quest.
These websites contain lists of famous people with TS.
Neuroscience for Kids
Tourette Syndrome - Now What?

Jim EisenreichJim Eisenreich, Baseball player - Eisenreich was not diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until he was 23 years old. His baseball career was put in jeopardy when his symptoms worsened. It took more than three years to find the right combination and dosage of antidepressants to control his symptoms, but he succeeded in doing so and continued his baseball career.

Eisenreich is a role model to young people with TS; at baseball games, he visits with children with TS, letting them see that he is leading a full life. He gives talks about living with Tourette syndrome and has appeared in a video for children called "Handling It Like a Winner." This is just one of several famous people mentioned on this website. Neuroscience for Kids

Tim HowardTim Howard, Soccer Player - Once known as Tim Dawg, Howard managed to become the goal keeper for Manchester United of England despite his tourettes Syndrome. It was an everyday battle but he kept it under control, especially when he was to be catching and blocking 65 miles an hour curve soccer balls from the best players in the world. Tim says it's just a battle of the will, he just constantly fights what his mind tells his body to do, he has been capable of shutting out tourettes. This is just one of several famous people mentioned on this website. Tourette Syndrome - Now What?

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Movies and Books

Here are some movies and books about kids with tourette syndrome.

Erica’s little secret
This online story is about a young girl who tries to conceal her tics to try to be like other kids.

I have Tourette VideoI have Tourette’s but Tourette’s doesn’t have me
An HBO video of children who are dealing with Tourette Syndrome. Produced in association with the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA), I HAVE TOURETTE’S, BUT TOURETTE’S DOESN’T HAVE ME presents a candid, wide-ranging look at the lives of children growing up with this baffling condition. In every school in America, it’s likely that at least one child has Tourette Syndrome (TS), a neurological condition characterized by repetitive, involuntary vocal and motor tics that persist over time. Many parents and educators don’t recognize the symptoms and often the disorder goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This can be purchased from the TSA website:

Matthew and the TicsMatthew and the Tics
A story for young children with TS and their peers. This book promotes acceptance and understanding. l The full story can be purchased from the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) website in English or Spanish

Movie: Front of the ClassFront of the Class
A book by Brad Cohen and a movie based on his story about his challenges with TS and how he overcomes them to become a gifted teacher.

“Dakota” is about a happy 11-year-old baseball player and video game wizard. Dakota is initially diagnosed as having a brain tumor! Finally, he is diagnosed correctly with TS and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (also called ADHD). Once there is a correct diagnosis, Dakota develops a positive attitude, and learns to believe in himself (with some special help from loving grandparents). This can be purchased from the TSA website:

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My School and Neighborhood

Kids with tics might need extra help in school with reading, writing, and doing math. TS can make these activities more difficult for them. They also might be afraid to speak in class if they have vocal tics and have been teased by other kids about the tics.

Do you think teachers in your school would provide extended time on reading assignments and handwritten work if a child had eye, head, neck, shoulder, or arm tics?

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Links outside this website

We provide links to other web pages if you want to learn more about a topic. Some of these pages are on the CDC web site and others are on outside websites. Links to organizations and companies outside of CDC are included for information only. CDC has no control over the information at these sites. The views and opinions of these organizations are not necessarily those of CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS).


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