Tic Suppression in Children With Recent-Onset Tics Predicts 1-Year Tic Outcome

J Child Neurol. 2019 Oct;34(12):757-764. doi: 10.1177/0883073819855531. Epub 2019 Jun 26.


Successful voluntary tic suppression is a key component of the behavioral interventions that are used to treat tic disorders. This study aimed to examine tic suppression in children with recent-onset tics and determine whether the capacity to suppress tics predicts future tic severity. We tested 45 children (30 male, mean age 7.74 years) with recent-onset tics (mean 3.47 months prior to the first study visit; baseline) and re-examined each child at the 12-month anniversary of the first recognized tic (follow-up). At the baseline visit, children performed a tic suppression task with several conditions: tic freely, inhibit tics given a verbal request, and inhibit tics in the presence of a reward. At the baseline visit, children with tics for only a few months could suppress their tics, and tic suppression was especially successful when they received an immediate and contingent reward. Additionally, the ability to suppress tics in the presence of a reward predicted tic severity at follow-up. These findings suggest that better inhibitory control of tics within months of tic onset may be an important predictor of future tic symptom outcome.

Keywords: inhibition (psychology); prognosis; provisional tic disorder; tic disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Tic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Tic Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome