The uncontrollable and embarrassing nature of the tics caused by Tourette syndrome can have a devastating impact on your child’s emotional health, self-esteem, school success, and social life.
But children, teens, and their parents can take heart. The team at THINK Neurology for Kids specializes in treatments proven to effectively reduce tics and provide ongoing support for overcoming the many challenges of Tourette syndrome.
Each child’s treatment is always customized to meet their unique needs. However, these are the six top treatments often recommended for Tourette syndrome.
Though the available medications can’t cure Tourette syndrome, they can make your child’s life less stressful by significantly reducing tics.
The first line of treatment for mild to moderate tics includes medicines used for ADHD, such as clonidine. These medications generally reduce hyperactivity, improving attention, relieving anxiety, and reducing tics.
Dopamine blocking medications
Dopamine blockers work better than ADHD medications for moderate to severe tics. However, they have a higher risk of side effects.
Tics are associated with unusually high levels of dopamine, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that controls muscle movements. As dopamine blockers restore normal neurotransmitter levels, your child experiences a significant reduction in tics.
Comprehensive behavioral interventions for tics (CBIT)
CBIT teaches your child how to change their behavior to reduce their tics. As part of CBIT, we help you and your child identify situations that trigger tics. Then we explore ways you can change or avoid those circumstances.
However, CBIT also helps your child take a more proactive role in controlling tics. Many children with Tourette syndrome have a feeling or sensation before their tic begins.
Through therapy, we teach your child to recognize the feeling, then raise their awareness of the sensation as a warning sign that their tic is about to occur. When they master those steps, we teach them a behavior they can do that stops the tic until the urge passes.
Treatment for co-occurring conditions
Many children with Tourette syndrome have another mental health disorder. The most frequent co-occurring conditions include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Conduct disorder (CD)
The treatment for Tourette syndrome must include diagnosing and treating co-occurring conditions. Other conditions may influence our medication recommendations.
Co-occurring conditions also influence your child’s tics. For example, stress and anxiety are renowned for making tics worse. Treating an anxiety disorder simultaneously improves your child’s Tourette’s symptoms.
Though CBIT is a proven therapy for managing tics, Tourette syndrome creates wide-ranging emotional and behavioral challenges. Children and teens may feel embarrassed about their tics, have low self-esteem, or avoid making friends and socializing. Some children are bullied or rejected by their peers.
They may also face an array of challenges caused by co-occurring conditions. Different types of therapy encourage children to talk about their feelings, work through the issues, and learn new skills that improve their life. Overcoming these challenges can also go a long way toward reducing tics.
Botox was safely and successfully used to treat muscle spasms long before it became one of today’s most popular cosmetic treatments. The active ingredient in Botox, botulinum toxin, temporarily relaxes muscles by stopping nerves from triggering muscle contractions.
When we inject a small dose of Botox into the muscles causing your child’s tics, the muscles relax, and tics should stop. The muscles stay relaxed for about 3-6 months. Then you can decide if you want your child to have another treatment.
To learn more about Tourette syndrome treatments, call THINK Neurology for Kids or book an appointment online today.