The “Twinkle Twinkle” tic exercise

Here is a good exercise for illustrating some of the difficulties that people with Tourette Syndrome have even when it might not look like their tics are “that bad.”

“Twinkle, Twinkle” provides the opportunity for others to “Try It On” to experience some of your TS. You are the teacher/instructor now! With the slide on the screen for everyone to follow along, each person will need a piece of paper and a pencil with an eraser. You will need a whistle or a bell. Then:

  • Give a tic to each person (head twitch, shoulder shrug, or a toe tap).
  • Give a compulsion to each person (the need to erase the letter “e” because it does not look right).
  • Give an obsession to each person (the need to erase and rewrite every 3rd word).
    Tell everyone they only have 2 minutes to write all the words to Twinkle, Twinkle on their page.
  • Tell everyone each time they hear the bell or whistle everyone must do their assigned tic, compulsion and obsession.

Then, begin the exercise. Walk around, sound your bell or whistle, then let them continue. Sound your bell or whistle at least 3 times during the 2 minutes. Be sure to say things like “you only have a few more seconds,” “hurry up” or “time is running out.”

Expect laughter and giggles as everyone tries to complete the exercise. At the end of 2 minutes, ask some questions:

  1. Who was able to finish?
  2. How did they feel?
  3. What did they find most frustrating (tic, compulsion or obsession)?
  4. Why was that frustrating?



  1. I started writing that all physicians and teachers should have to do this exercise and then I realized that we as parents should also do this. I realized that I NEED TO DO THIS TOO! Yes, we live with it, however, I am guilty of being less than tolerant at times.

  2. This is great. I’ll have my son try this in his class. He gives talks on behalf of TSA and he has to do one for his development class. This would be perfect.

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