20 facts about Tourette Syndrome you may or may not know

Throwback Thursday: Since this is one of the most popular posts on out Parents blog, we wanted to alert visitors that on November 11, 2020 we have a unique opportunity for you. Register for our webinar “Ask the Doc, A Neurologist’s Perspective”. Dr. Michael Rubenstein will be answering your questions.

Do you have a question about your Tourette Syndrome or your child’s Tourette Syndrome?  Now is your time to ask.  Dr. Rubenstein is answering questions about TS in all its stages today.  Don’t miss this opportunity to speak to a medical expert.  Submit your questions in advance on the registration page.

Dr. Michael Rubenstein is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, and West Virginia University School of Medicine. He completed his neurology residency at the University of Virginia in 1989 and began private practice in the Philadelphia area while also holding a clinical appointment at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2013, Dr. Rubenstein moved to a full-time faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania where he is currently an Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology.

Dr. Rubenstein has also served as a primary referral resource for State, Regional and National Tourette syndrome organizations over the last 25 years and currently evaluates and cares for patients with Tourette syndrome at both the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Register for the webinar here

 20 facts about Tourette Syndrome (originally published in May of 2012, updated November of 2020.):

  1. One in 100 children have some form of Tourette Syndrome or a tic disorder. 
  2. Less than 10 percent of people with TS swear, which is known as coprolalia.
  3. TS is an inherited neurological disorder named after Gilles De La Tourette.
  4. TS causes people to have tics. Tics are sudden twitches, movements or sounds that they do repeatedly. People with TS cannot stop these tics.
  5. No two people with TS will have the same tics. Each person with TS is as different as every snowflake.
  6. More than 86 percent of people with TS also have co-morbid conditions — ADD, ADHD, OCD, anxiety disorders, sensory processing disorder (SPD) and dysgraphia, just to name a few.
  7. There are two types of tics, motor and vocal. Motor tics are movements of the body, such as blinking, shrugging of shoulders, limb movements, etc. Vocal tics are sounds people make, such as barking, sniffing, throat clearing, random words, etc.
  8. Tics can be simple or complex. Simple tics involve just a few body parts, such as eye blinking or sniffing. Complex tics involve several parts of the body and can have a set pattern, such as bobbing head while jerking arms, then finishing with a jump.
  9. Tics wax and wane and can increase and decrease and change throughout a person’s lifetime. Tics a person has an a young child could be different and at a different severity than when they are a teenager.
  10. Tics usually start around the age of 5 to 10 years old. The first tics are usually motor tics.
  11. Tics are usually worse during times of stress or excitement. They tend to improve when a person is calm and focused on an activity.
  12. Even though symptoms can change or appear or disappear, the condition is chronic.
  13. TS effects males 3 to 5 times more than females.
  14. There is no cure for TS, and there is currently no drug out there specifically made for TS.
  15. A misconception is that people can learn to stop their tics. They can, at times, hold them in (suppression), but eventually have to release them. Comprehensive Behavior Intervention for Tics, or CBIT, is a specialized behavior therapy designed to help individuals – children and adults – learn to better manage their tics.
  16. Individuals with TS are aware of an urge to time, similar to that of a sneeze or an itch. They describe it as a build up of tension, pressure or energy. The actual tic is a means of releasing or relieving this tension.
  17. TS is believed to result from a dysfunction of the thalamus, basil ganglia and frontal cortex regions of the brain. Learn more about the latest research.
  18. TS does not affect the intelligence of a person. In fact, most children with TS have above normal to high intelligence levels.
  19. Knowledge, education and understanding are very important for people with TS. Educating the patient, family, school and community are key in the treatment of TS.
  20. Children who try to suppress their tics while at school have a hard time focusing on what the teacher is teaching. Suppression of tics is physically exhausting, making it hard for them to live up to their potential at school.


  1. I am doing this for a project and this is very helpfull and is very important that people know about this.

  2. Thanks so much for the info. I have tourette syndrome and this is helping me understand my disorder. I only have a few tics, one that mimics a hiccup, murmuring “I have a donkey” and biting my tongue/inside of my cheeks or lip, clapping, and saying “why did Patty leave?”. My uncle has it worse, and it got worse for him with age, and that’s what is happening to me, lol. It makes life such a struggle, because my friends think I’m faking it until I show the prescription I have for Risperdal. They always say “You never did that before!” I also have ADD, OCD, and anxiety.

  3. Helped with my project on Tourettes and while I am going to the doctor to see if my tics are Tourettes this gave me some information on wither or not I have Tourettes. Anyways Thanks.

  4. I love how simply all these facts are put! Very well done! I’m copying this link right now and sharing with people who ask about TS!

  5. very helpful! i have a project and i really thought this was healpful thanks!

  6. I have asberg syndrome Tourette’s syndrome and ADHD when I was born my neck was in one direction and many other things about me for me it’s hard to concentrate in class my tics are biting inside my mouth cracking my fingers and neck touching my face my nice my “thing” it just happens and take many pills during the day mostly the morning but I have a YouTube channel called SwaggyBoi OG I do funny videos and stuff like that so yea my tics are often seen in videos

  7. I knew most of these things, although a few did surprise me. As a person with Tourette’s, I can say that all of this is pretty true. Excellent writing.

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