Parents of children diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome find they’re suddenly responsible for intense roles they never imagined. Education advocate, in-home behavioral therapist, and emotional support ally are a few of the top roles they assume while caring for their child.
When families come to THINK Neurology for Kids, we offer support to children and their parents. One way we can help lighten the parental load is by fully explaining each treatment option and recommending the best treatment plan for your child.
We wrote this blog to give you a starting point on some effective Tourette Syndrome treatments.
Facts about Tourette Syndrome
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological condition that causes sudden, repetitive, and involuntary movements or sounds called tics. In most children, the first signs of Tourette Syndrome appear between the ages of 5-7 years.
After the first tic, which is typically a motor tic such as blinking, children’s symptoms tend to increase in severity and frequency through the age of 12.
By late adolescence, many teens see an improvement in their tics. However, moderate to severe tics often continue into adulthood
It’s also common for tics to change. Sometimes you won’t be able to pin down a reason for a new type of tic. In many cases, however, your child’s tic changes in response to variables such as fatigue, illness, stress, and intense emotions.
4 treatments for Tourette Syndrome
We offer comprehensive and compassionate treatment using multimodal therapies to reduce your child’s symptoms. These are four possible treatments for Tourette Syndrome:
1. Medications to suppress Tourette Syndrome symptoms
If your child’s tic is mild and doesn’t affect their daily functioning, they may not need medication. When they struggle with moderate or severe symptoms, some medications can help suppress their tics.
It’s important to know that medications seldom produce a quick improvement in symptoms. It takes time for them to work. Additionally, each person’s unique genetic makeup determines how they metabolize drugs, so we may need to try several medications or doses to find the best one for your child.
2. Medications to treat comorbid disorders
Most patients with Tourette Syndrome develop co-occurring neuropsychiatric conditions. ADHD, which often appears before tics begin, is the most common comorbidity, affecting 60-80% of all children with Tourette Syndrome.
Other mental health conditions often diagnosed in children with Tourette Syndrome include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), sleep problems, depression, and migraines.
Each disorder has specific medications that can help treat your child’s symptoms. Many children achieve better results when we combine medications with psychotherapy.
Children with Tourette Syndrome (and other comorbid disorders) often make great strides and experience significant symptom improvement with different types of psychotherapy.
One of the most common therapeutic approaches for Tourette Syndrome is Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT). CBIT incorporates approaches such as habit reversal therapy, relaxation training, and learning to identify the emotions and situations that increase tic severity.
During habit reversal therapy, children gain the ability to self-monitor their tics. They learn to pay attention to feelings such as tension that occur before a tic and to engage in voluntary behaviors that prevent it.
Many children benefit from supportive psychotherapy that focuses on other challenges they face as a result of their Tourette Syndrome, such as depression, anger, rage, and socialization problems.
4. Botox® injections
Botox, a purified form of botulinum toxin, has been used for decades to treat tremors and dystonia. Dystonia causes involuntary muscle contractions and includes several different types. For example, blepharospasm is a dystonia that causes blinking.
Since Botox is injected into precisely targeted muscles, we can treat tics with Botox when the tic is localized to a specific muscle group.
If your child develops vocal or motor tics, we can help. Call one of our offices in The Woodlands, Katy, or Cypress, Texas, or request an appointment online today.