Could it be Tourette’s Syndrome?

Ruth, the character Amy Poehler played in the movie Deuce Bigelow, has intermittent vulgar outbursts, which made her fearful of socializing. Aside from suffering from corpolalia, Ruth also has Tourette’s Syndrome (TS). In the movie, Deuce helped Ruth channel her tendency to shout profanities by bringing her to a baseball game and in the end, it all worked out.

What Is TS?
Tourette Syndrome, or TS, is a neurological disease that is manifested through unusual, involuntary and repetitive movements or vocalizations, often called tics. Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, the man the disorder was named after, first observed the condition in an eighty-six year old French woman.

The signs of TS generally become noticeable during childhood. Men are three times more likely to be affected and the condition has been observed in people from various ethnic groups. TS can last a long time although some people with the syndrome experience improvement in their late teens and adulthood.

What Causes TS?
There are no known causes of TS. There is also no way to prevent it. However, some medical theories suggest that if you or your parents have been diagnosed with the disorder, then you might inherit the syndrome. Subsequently, you might pass it on to your children. Another theory lies in the aberrations in the brain involving chemicals like serotonin and dopamine that transmit nerve impulses.

Tics among TS patients are often classified into simple and complex. Simple tics are often repetitive actions, which occur suddenly but briefly. Some examples of simple tics are blinking or darting of the eyes, jerky head movements, yelling, and clearing of the throat. On the other hand, complex tics are coordinated and distinguishable movement patterns that involve more than one muscle group. Touching others, hopping, making obscene gestures, and uttering profanities are some examples of complex tics.

Aside from exhibiting tics, people with TS also suffer from related conditions, such as OCD (obsessive-compulsive behavior), ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), anxiety or sleep disorders, learning disabilities, and depression.

Is It Time to see a Specialist?
TS becomes apparent during childhood, between the ages of 7 and 10. As soon as you notice your child exhibiting unusual behavior or movements, it is best to bring him/her to your pediatrician to be certain of the condition.

What Signs To Look For
A diagnosis of TS includes the following criteria:

• Motor and vocal tics must be present, although not simultaneously.

• The tics must occur several times, almost everyday or at intervals, for more than one year. A break in tics must not be for more than three months.

• The onset of the tics should take place before the age of 18.

• A separate medical condition, medications, or other drugs or substances do not cause the tics.

How Is TS treated?
Sadly, there is still no cure for TS. Since most people with TS can control the tics and other behavioral symptoms, they do not need medications. If the tics and symptoms become too disruptive, medications are prescribed to make the tics easier to control.

People with TS can live normal lives. They just need understanding and a little support – like what Deuce gave Ruth.

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