Early Childhood Intervention: Module Two – Special Needs & Conditions

Category — 2.1 Children with Nervous System Disorders: Tourette syndrome

Children with Tourette syndrome (TS)

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a type of tic disorder that usually has on onset between the ages of 2 and 15 years. Children with Tourette Syndrom tend to perform repeated, sudden, involuntary (not done on purpose), and often meaningless movements and sounds, called tics. The range of tics for a child with Tourette Syndrom is diverse and may be characterized by motor tics (eye blinking, foot stomping) and vocal tics (coughing or echolalia, that is, when children older than 3 years continue to repeat the last words –or syllables-they hear from others). The tics may disappear as the children grow older. Causes of tics may include some type of brain damage in the ganglia; they may also have a genetic origin.


Children with Tourette Syndrom usually have typical intelligence. Some children may also have ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Many children with Tourette Syndrom are also identified as having learning disabilities  (almost 50%), and/or with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Obsessive compulsive disorders, including the need to express obscene words (without meaning to do this), is known as ‘coprorlalia’. The cause is unknown but it is suggested that it is an autosomal dominant disorder in about one third of the cases.

Intervention Options

The majority of people with Tourette Syndrom are not significantly disabled and do not require medication. However, some medications help control symptoms when they interfere with functioning. Other types of therapy may also be helpful.

  • Psychotherapy: Sometimes psychotherapy can help the family to cope with the psycho-social problems.
  • Behavior Intervention: Behavioral therapies may teach children with Tourette Syndrom to substitute one tic with another. The use of relaxation techniques and/or biofeedback may help during prolonged periods of high stress.
  • Occupational therapy (OT): Some children may have sensory processing difficulties and may need sensory integration therapy, which is usually provided by an Occupational Therapist (OT).
  • Mental health specialist: Most children with Tourette Syndrom do not have cognitive delays and are aware of their tics; some of them may have challenging behaviors and emotional outbursts. Counselling support may be needed to help children manage their emotions, as well as to deal with others misunderstanding their condition.
  • Academic preparation/Learning specialist: A child may need help being ready to tell others about their condition and symptoms.

To learn about Tourette syndrome in the middle childhood years, please visit the six to 12 part of this course


February 24, 2011   No Comments