Please forward this error presentation on young children to 31. Having tics is common and often misunderstood, or even ridiculed. This is because of the somewhat strange symptoms of the condition. They can be referred to as Tourette Syndrome when the tics are severe.
Tics are repeated, and sometimes seemingly ‘socially inappropriate’ movements and sounds. These movements can range from twitching, eye blinking, facial grimacing, head and shoulder jerking to jumping, touching other people and things, smelling, as well as sometimes hitting or biting oneself. A child or adolescent with this condition has little or no control over their behaviour. The tics are not deliberate or voluntary at all. Some can learn to suppress their tics for a while in certain situations, but the tics will come out at some later point.
Also the severity and type of the tics often change over time, getting better and worse, and again this is nothing that the child or young person has any control over. It is not fully known what causes tics, but they appear to involve some abnormal processing of certain brain chemicals. The tics usually start around the age of 6-8 years, and often do get better by themselves towards the end of adolescence. In mild forms the condition is thought to affect 1 in every 100 school children, though severe cases are somewhat less common, and it affects about 4 times as many males than females. Tics are fairly common, and many children might only display them for a few months, and if this is the case, it is no indication of any underlying problems.
Also, if you are a parent or carer, you may be the only one seeing these tics in the child, and they might not display them in other places. This is not an indication that this is your fault at all, but rather a sign that the child or young person feels safe around you. It is only when the tics are very severe and occur frequently in environments outside of the home that they can become problematic to the child or young person. The tics themselves are most often not a problem at all, but what can be a problem are the responses the child or young person gets from the people around them. Others may feel uncomfortable or simply do not understand the tics, and this can lead to larger problems.