Provisional Tic Disorder: What to tell parents when their child first starts ticcing

Kevin J Black, Elizabeth Rose Black, Deanna J. Greene, Bradley L. Schlaggar
  • F1000Research, April 2016, Faculty of 1000, Ltd.
  • DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.8428.1

When do tics turn into Tourette syndrome?

What is it about?

Doctors see lots of children with one or a few tics (e.g. hard blinking, or grunting). It is generally accepted that 15% or 20% of children may have a tic at some point during childhood. The lore among experts is that the tics usually will disappear within a few months. On the other hand, chronic tic disorders are not as common ("chronic" here is defined as tics over a period of at least a year). About one child per classroom in elementary school has a chronic tic disorder, though many of them never see a doctor. We have been studying children with recent-onset tics, and in the process we have found that what little data has previously been collected on these children does not strongly support clinical lore. This publication reviews the existing literature on the subject.

Why is it important?

Provisional Tic Disorder--the current diagnosis for most children with recent onset of tics--may have just as much importance for science as for clinical care. It provides an opportunity to prospectively observe the spontaneous remission of tics. Such prospective studies may aid identification of genes or biomarkers specifically associated with remission rather than onset of tics. A better understanding of tic remission may also suggest novel treatment strategies for Tourette syndrome, or may even lead to secondary prevention of tic disorders.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Kevin J. Black