Tourette Syndrome is a genetic neurological disorder characterised by tics — repetitive, involuntary vocalisations (vocal tics) and movements (motor tics).
It was first recognised as a disorder in 1883 by French neurologist Georges Gilles de la Tourette.
It is estimated that one in a hundred people are born with Tourette Syndrome (TS) although only a small number of these people will ever be diagnosed; the majority will have tics that are so mild that they may not even be aware that they have the disorder.
Tourette Syndrome is a paediatric disorder and for a formal diagnosis to be given, both sets of tics need to occur concurrently before the age of 18 – although diagnosis may not be made until adulthood.
Studies indicate boys are affected three-to-four times more than girls.
As well as tics, more than 85 per cent of those living with Tourette Syndrome also have a co-existing disorder, usually ADHD, OCD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, anxiety and/or depression.
Much like a fingerprint, each individual with Tourette Syndrome will experience different tics, differing frequency and complexity.
Often motor tics are the first to appear and usually begin as facial tics — blinking and/or grimacing.
These tics usually start to show in early childhood and generally increase or worsen during puberty and teenage years. In most cases the tics will then abate in adulthood.
In some cases however the tics associated with TS will stay the same throughout adulthood and a small percentage will develop more frequent and complex tics as an adult.
Tics wax and wane (come and go) in frequency, severity and complexity. They can change overnight.