Tourette Syndrome (TS) in Children: Care Instructions
Children with Tourette syndrome (TS) make sounds and movements that they can't control. These are called tics.
Some children blink their eyes a lot or twitch their nose. Others move their arms or legs a lot or stamp their feet. A child with verbal tics may grunt, shout, or clear their throat. In rare cases, a child uses bad words or gestures.
Tics usually begin in early childhood. They are often worst around age 12. As your child ages, the pattern of tics can change.
Tics can last into adulthood. But in most children they slowly go away in the teen years.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
How can you care for your child at home?
- Learn about TS. Share what you learn with your child's teachers and people who spend a lot of time with your child.
- Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
- Make sure your child goes to all counselling sessions and follow-up appointments.
- Do any homework or exercises that your child's therapist gives you.
- Write down when the tics happen. Try to identify what might cause them. If you do this, you may be able to help your child avoid things that cause tics.
- Make changes at home. For example, don't treat tics as bad behaviour. Give your child free time after tasks or chores. When tics are bad, stay calm and help your child relax.
- Ask your child's teachers to make changes. For example, your child may need more time to take tests. Or it may help if your child sits in a more private place with few distractions. It might also help if your child can rest when needed or leave the classroom to deal with severe tics.
When should you call for help?
Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
If your child talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away.
- Call Talk Suicide Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 (4 p.m. to midnight ET).
- Kids or teens can call Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.
- Go to the Talk Suicide Canada website at https://talksuicide.ca or the Kids Help Phone website at https://kidshelpphone.ca for more information.
Consider saving these numbers in your phone.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your child has a severe mood change or is talking about suicide.
- Your child has a sudden change in behaviour.
- It is hard to take care of yourself or your child.
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
- Your child has symptoms that often get in the way of daily activities.
- Your child has new or different symptoms.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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Current as of: December 13, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics