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Tic Disorder

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

What is a tic disorder?

A tic is a repeated movement or sound that happens suddenly and cannot be controlled. A tic disorder starts in childhood, usually between 7 and 12 years of age. Your child's tic disorder may be mild or severe. He or she may have a tic for a short time, or he or she may have it for the rest of his or her life. Your child's risk for a tic disorder is higher if he or she has a family history of a tic disorder. Tic disorders are also more common in males.

What are the different types of tic disorders?

What kinds of tics may my child have?

Your child may have motor (movement) or vocal (sound) tics. Motor and vocal tics can happen at the same time or separately. Your child may have many tics in a row, followed by a calm period when he or she has no tics. Your child may have any of the following several times every day:

How is a tic disorder diagnosed?

Your child may not have a tic during an examination. His or her healthcare provider may still be able to diagnose a tic disorder based on information you or your child give him or her. He or she will ask questions about your child's tics and health history. Tell him or her when the tics started, how often they occur, and if they interfere with daily activities. Tell him or her if a family member has a tic disorder. Your child's healthcare provider may do testing to check your child's brain function. He or she may check your child's eyes, strength, memory, and problem solving ability. He or she will also check for other conditions, such as ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and mood disorders. These often occur with some types of tic disorders, such as TS. Treatment for some of the other disorders may also improve tics.

How is a tic disorder treated?

A mild tic disorder may not need to be treated, or may be started later. Your child's healthcare provider may recommend watching and waiting to see if the tics get worse. Your child's tics may become milder or go away during the teen years. Treatment may help make tics less severe but usually does not get rid of them completely. The following can help your child manage his or her symptoms and decrease stress:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What can I do to help support my child?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.