Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders of childhood

Handb Clin Neurol. 2023:196:457-474. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-323-98817-9.00002-8.


Tics are repetitive, patterned, and nonrhythmic movements or vocalizations/audible sounds that are misplaced in context. Phenomenology and characteristics of tics (e.g., premonitory urge, suppressibility) differentiate them from compulsions, stereotypies, functional tic-like behaviors, and other types of hyperkinetic movement disorders. With a prevalence of approximately 1% in school-aged boys, Tourette syndrome (TS) is considered a common childhood-onset neurodevelopmental disorder, defined by the combination of at least two motor tics and at least one phonic tic lasting more than 1 year. TS is a highly heritable disorder, with a wide spectrum of severity. In some individuals, tics can cause pain, distress, functional impairment, or stigmatization. About 90% of individuals with TS have at least one mental health comorbidity (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety/depressive disorders). These comorbidities significantly impact patients' quality of life and must therefore be screened and managed accordingly in this population. Treatment of tics is based on behavioral therapies targeting tics (habit reversal training included in the comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics, and exposure and response prevention for tics), in association with medication if needed (e.g., alpha-2-agonists, second-generation antipsychotics). Deep brain stimulation is considered an experimental option in the most severe, treatment-resistant patients. In adulthood, less than 25% of individuals still have moderate or severe tics.

Keywords: Phenomenology; Prognosis; Tic physiopathology; Tic treatment; Tics; Tourette syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders*
  • Quality of Life
  • Tics*
  • Tourette Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Tourette Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Tourette Syndrome* / therapy