Tics are an important feature of Tourette Syndrome (TS), whilst impaired fluency of speech is the dominant overt feature of stuttering. To establish any relationship, we looked at tics in people with TS and people who stutter and have found that tics are present in both groups. We also found that some people with TS had impaired fluency of speech in specific tasks (reading) that were similar to those that we saw in people who stutter.
We analysed the stutter events in both groups by looking at repetitions of parts of words, prolongations and blocks where people get stuck and stop the smooth flow of their speech. One thing that emerged was that not all TS participants had stutters and not all people who stuttered had tics (about 50 percent of the TS group had impaired fluency of speech and about 50 percent of the group of people who stuttered showed tics).
This shows that there were crossovers of these features for some participants. We hope to be able to secure funds to investigate this matter further by conducting an imaging study that will compare the way the brain works in groups of participants who show both types of symptom with those who only show the some symptoms.
This may provide ways of identifying participants in both groups of participants where long-term problems can be prevented, help identify those in need of intervention and suggest new ways of addressing their problems in treatment.
This research was completed by L. De Pellerin as part of an MRes. If you have any further questions regarding this research please contact Miss Seonaid Anderson.