Tic Disorders: What to Look For

A child with tics experiences what appear to be uncontrollable movements or vocal sounds. For example, a child with motor tics may engage in repetitive and rapid shoulder shrugging, eye blinking, lip biting, or facial grimacing. A child with vocal tics may repetitively clear his throat, hum, sniff, snort, or squeal. A very small percentage of children have what’s called coprolalia, which involves involuntary cursing or making socially inappropriate remarks. Some children describe an uncomfortable feeling in their bodies before a tic occurs; this is called a “premonitory urge.” Many children feel brief relief of this uncomfortable feeling after the tic occurs. Not all children with tics experience such urges.