Key Findings: Tourette Syndrome and Parenting Aggravation

Father and son

CDC Researchers used data from the 2007-2008 National Survey of Children’s Health to look at how having a child with Tourette Syndrome (TS) can affect families. The results were published in the Disability and Health Journal. Read the abstract.external icon

Main Study Findings

This paper reports information from parents of children between 6 and 17 years of age who answered questions about their child’s specific health conditions, general family functioning, and about their level of stress and frustration with parenting, which is characterized as “parenting aggravation”.

Parents and caregivers of children with and without TS were compared on different elements of family functioning, parenting aggravation, and parental coping. The impact of co-occurring mental, emotional, and behavioral conditions was also explored. As in previous studies, children with TS were more likely to have co-occurring attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, a behavior or conduct problem, anxiety, depression, or an autism spectrum disorder than children without TS.

Results of the study showed:

  • Compared with parents of children without TS, parents of children with TS were more likely to report:
    • Their child was more difficult to care for than other children their age
    • Feeling bothered by their child, and
    • Feeling angry with their child.
  • The presence of co-occurring& mental, emotional and behavioral conditions played a major role in the relationship between TS and parenting aggravation.
  • However, having a child with TS did not affect parent ratings of family routines, parent-child communication, and parental coping.


Although parents experienced challenges related to raising children with TS and co-occurring conditions, many positive aspects of family functioning (routines, communication, and coping) were not related to having a child with TS. These findings suggest the following implications for family functioning:

  • Increased awareness of how TS and co-occurring conditions affect families may help parents better understand these challenges and improve their child’s ability to live with TS.
  • Appropriate treatment and care of TS and co-occurring conditions may help lessen parenting difficulties and strengthen family functioning.

CDC’s Work on Tourette Syndrome


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works with partners to conduct research to better understand TS, including:

  • The prevalence of TS,
  • The quality of life among people affected by TS,
  • Risk and protective factors associated with the impact of TS, and
  • Health risk behaviors associated with TS.

Results from this research inform public health efforts to improve the lives and health outcomes of people affected by TS.  CDC supports education programs to help improve the quality of life of those with TS and their families, and helps guide future research.

Education and Outreach

CDC has partnered with the Tourette Association of America to provide much needed educational programs. The goal of this outreach is to increase awareness and provide information that will help people with TS receive needed health services, be more accepted by those around them, and have the opportunity to succeed in school and work.

The programs educate physicians, allied professionals, and school personnel, as well as those who have TS, their families, and the general public. The programs provide accurate, up-to-date, science-based information about the recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of TS.

More Information

CDC’s website on Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Health and Educational Programexternal icon

CDC’s website on positive parenting

CDC’s website on children’s mental health


Tourette syndrome, parenting aggravation, and the contribution of co-occurring conditions among a nationally representative sample. Lara R. Robinson, Rebecca H. Bitsko, Laura A. Schieve, Susanna N. Visser. Disability and Health Journal. 2013; 6(1): 26-35.