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House Call: Tourette Syndrome in the School Age Child

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Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder, often diagnosed as motor tick disorder, which is defined by multiple motor and vocal tics lasting for more than one year.  The disorder can present in children as early as three years of age, but hardly ever begins in individuals past the age of sixteen. 

More: PDF: Tourette Syndrome Info Sheet

Males are three to four times more likely to develop the condition than females, and half the children with Tourette syndrome also have attention deficit disorder (ADD). 

Severity of the condition can vary greatly from mild to severe, and changes constantly. 

Medications to treat Tourette syndrome often cause several side effects, therefore very few children with Tourette Syndrome are put on a medication regimen.  Although, if the child’s condition is causing them pain (severe tics wearing out the muscle), causing embarrassment with loss of self-esteem, and/or disruption of the classroom, medication may be prescribed.

Because of lack of awareness and knowledge about Tourette syndrome, schools and teachers are often ill-prepared to properly interact with students with the condition.  Disciplining a child for disruptive tics can induce anxiety, which often increases severity of tics.  Therefore, education about the disorder is key. 

Parents of children with Tourette syndrome should meet with their child’s school faculty and staff to teach them about the condition, and how to relate with them in the classroom setting.  The exceptional medical team at Cone Health Child Neurology is dedicated to treating children in the community with Tourette syndrome and educating their families about the disorder.

Physician Background:

Dr. William Hickling is a pediatric neurologist at Cone Health Child Neurology.  Dr. Hickling is a 1978 graduate of Cornell University Medical College.  He completed  his pediatric residency at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and his neurology residency at North Carolina Memorial Hospital. He has practiced in this community since 1985.