The most common symptoms are uncontrolled muscle movements. They may occur in the face, neck, shoulders, torso or hands. Examples include:
- Head jerking
- Repeated foot tapping, leg jerking, scratching or other movements
Complex tics include:
- Sticking out the tongue or lip-smacking
- Touching behaviors
- Making rude gestures
Tourette syndrome also includes one or more vocal tics such as:
- Grunting or moaning sounds
- Tongue clicking
- Saying rude things
- Throat clearing, snorting, or coughing
- Squeaking noises
- Echoing sounds or phrases repeatedly
Tic behaviors change over time. They also vary in how often they occur.
Tourette syndrome can occur differently in boys and girls. Boys are more likely to have long-term (chronic) tics. Girls are more likely to have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This is an anxiety disorder. With OCD, a child has a repeated thought, fear, or worry (obsession) that they try to manage through a certain behavior (compulsion) to reduce the anxiety.
Not everyone with the gene will have symptoms of Tourette syndrome. If a parent passes the gene to a child, the child may not have any symptoms. If a daughter inherits the gene, there is a 7 in 10 chance that she will have at least one sign of Tourette syndrome. If a son inherits the gene, there is an almost sure chance (99%) that he will have at least one sign of Tourette syndrome.
The symptoms of Tourette syndrome can seem like other health conditions. Have your child see their healthcare provider for a diagnosis.