Although tics can be uncontrollable, some can be suppressed for brief periods with effort. Most tics are barely noticeable and do not affect day-to-day functioning, but some tics can affect many areas of a child's life. Most forms of tics do get worse with anxiety, tiredness, or stress.
The Need for Help
Tics occur in up to 24 percent of children. The most common tic disorder is transient tic disorder, which typically occurs during the early school years and may be interpreted as a child being "nervous."
Children with Tourette syndrome can have both body and vocal tics. The majority of these tics resolve or become much less intense or frequent as the child begins the transition to adulthood; however, some tics may remain with a child into adulthood. Children with Tourette syndrome may also have difficulty with attention, impulsive behaviors, and/or perfectionistic/obsessive thinking.
Tics can occur for other reasons as well. Other disorders that might produce tics include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, learning disorders, and some neurologic disorders. A thorough evaluation is recommended to identify the reason a tic might occur.
That’s Where We Come In
University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital has a long established history of evaluation, education, and treatment of children with tics.
Because tics can produce a wide variety of symptoms and consequences, children are best served by a team of experts working together. Our team of experts design individualized treatment plans for children with tic disorders. Treatment plan may include all or some combination of the following:
Educational consultation and testing
Referral for family counseling
Consultation with local providers
Our goals are to:
Provide effective clinical services for individuals with tics and their families
Provide consultation to local educational resources and local providers
Provide training to those who serve individuals with tics
Conduct effective research on causes and interventions for tics
We offer the following clinical services:
Evaluation based on an individual’s symptoms and concerns
Medication management: Assessing and adjusting medications used to treat tics
Evaluation of educational needs and learning difficulties
Evaluation of tics by psychological testing
Education for patients, families and schools relating to tics
Psychotherapy (counseling) to address tics
Collaboration with schools and primary care providers
We will work with you to make your visit convenient and efficient, and then we can communicate with your local provider to make sure that you are child's needs are addressed.
Complete a Questionnaire Before Your Visit
The diagnosis of a tic disorder is based on the history of tics and related symptoms. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Tourette International Collaborative Questionnaire aids the diagnostic process by giving the family a framework to remember symptoms a child might have demonstrated in the past and to think about when these symptoms first began. The questionnaire will be reviewed with a physician at the time of the appointment and will allow the collection of the patient’s history to be more accurate and more efficient.
Education and Training
We provide education and training about tics to parents, teachers, students, social workers, doctors and other health professionals throughout the state. Our goals include early identification, practical interventions for tics, and literature-supported treatment interventions.
We are actively researching causes of tics, as well as new and effective treatments.