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Tics, Or Other Involuntary Movements

What Are Tics?

Tics are sudden, repetitive, stereotyped movements or vocalizations such as throat clearing, eye blinking, or twitching of the head, neck, or shoulders. Tics are involuntary movements, but can be temporarily suppressed. For example, some children will suppress their tics while at school, but experience an increase in tics when they get home. 

Tics are common, with transient, self-resolving tics affecting as many as 20% of school-aged children. Children with multiple tics that persist for more than 12-months may have what is referred to as Tourette’s Syndrome.

When to Seek Help

Since many tics are harmless and self-resolve, treatment is often not necessary. When tics interfere with a child’s daily life (such as school, sports, play or self-esteem), they may benefit from treatment.

Treatment

There are many pharmaceutical options for the treatment of tics. In addition to these, an equally effective, non-pharamcological therapy can be offered to many children, called CBIT (Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics).  This highly-structured program involves identification of related stressors, relaxation techniques, and using a competing response to the tic which acts to interrupt the neural pathway that is generating the tic. Learn more about CBIT >

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“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

-Viktor Frankl
Austrian Neurologist and author of Man’s Search for Meaning