Tourette Syndrome

Young boy with hand on head

Tourette syndrome is a condition of the nervous system that causes people to have tics. Tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly, such as blinking over and over or grunting unwillingly. Having tics is a little bit like having hiccups. Even though you might not want to hiccup, your body does it anyway. Tics must be present for at least 1 year to be diagnosed with Tourette syndrome. They may change, get worse or better, or may even stop for short periods of time. Many children with Tourette syndrome also have other disorders.

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Key Facts

  • Tics are sudden and repetitive twitches, movements, or sounds that people do without wanting to.
  • Tourette syndrome estimates are similar across racial and ethnic groups. Boys are more often affected than girls.
  • Most children with Tourette syndrome also have at least one other diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.
  • Tics often get worse during times of stress or excitement and better when a person is calm or focused on an activity.
  • CDC works to learn more about Tourette syndrome, educate communities, and support children with Tourette syndrome.

Media

Young boy sitting against brick wall with head down
Bullying

Children who have tics are more likely to be bullied than children without tics, and those with more severe tics are at greater risk. Among children with tics, bullying has been associated with loneliness and anxiety. Some children with Tourette syndrome may also bully others. Read more about what you can to help stop bullying of children with Tourette Syndrome.

Young girl sitting at table and talking with female doctor
Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics

Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) is a behavioral therapy that teaches people to become aware of their tics. The therapy also explains how their environment affects tics and helps them manage their specific symptoms and needs. The Tourette Association offers CBIT training as part of the Tourette Health and Education program.

Chart showing Tourette Syndrome statistics
Tourette Syndrome Data

Findings from the National Survey of Children’s Health show that many children with Tourette syndrome also have other mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders.

Prevention Tips

Although Tourette Syndrome is not a preventable condition, here are some tips for early detection and better management:

  • If you think your child has a tic disorder, talk to your healthcare provider about getting a thorough evaluation. Tic disorders include provisional tic disorder, persistent motor or vocal tic disorder, and Tourette syndrome.
  • Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider about conditions including anxiety, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or learning disabilities that commonly occur with Tourette syndrome. Your child may need specific treatment.
  • There is no cure for Tourette syndrome. But medication and behavioral treatments can help with managing tics, particularly if they cause pain or injury, interfere with school, work, or relationships, or cause stress.
  • Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) is an evidence-based behavioral therapy that helps people better understand and manage their tics, find ways to change them, and learn relaxation methods to help prevent tics.
  • Educating the community, peers, and educators about tic disorders such as Tourette syndrome can increase support for children with tics and reduce teasing and stress. Teens can become youth ambassadors and rising leaders and advocate for themselves.

    CDC sponsors the Tourette Association of America to provide education and training on Tourette syndrome and tic disorders. The program offers support for individuals, families, health professionals, and educators.

Page last reviewed: June 3, 2022