Patterns and Predictors of Tic Suppressibility in Youth With Tic Disorders

Christine A. Conelea, Brianna Wellen, Douglas W. Woods, Deanna J. Greene, Kevin J. Black, Matthew Specht, Michael B. Himle, Han-Joo Lee, Matthew Capriotti
  • Frontiers in Psychiatry, May 2018, Frontiers Media SA
  • DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00188

Who can suppress tics best?

What is it about?

Most people with Tourette syndrome or other tic disorders can suppress their ticcing for a brief period of time with an effort of will. It's part of the daily experience of tics for most patients. Here, several research groups combine data to report on tic suppression under direct observation in 99 children and adolescents with a tic disorder. Older children with more frequent tics could suppress tics more completely. In other words, those with more practice suppressing tics could do so better. On the other hand, there was substantial variability in tic suppression across subjects. For instance, our New Tics study ( contributed data to this report, and those data showed that many children can suppress tics within the first few months of their first tic. Surprisingly, many other factors that we had expected might affect tic suppression did not do so significantly, including severity of tics or premonitory urges, or the child's estimate of his/her ability to suppress tics.

Why is it important?

Science on tic suppression has been scarce until recent years. Woods and Himle's development of a clinic-based, standardized Tic Suppression Task was a crucial step forward [1]. Here, Drs. Conelea and Capriotti invited several different research groups to combine our data on tic suppression with theirs, so as to have a larger sample that would provide statistical power to seek additional insights. [1] Woods DW, Himle MB. Creating tic suppression: comparing the effects of verbal instruction to differential reinforcement. J Appl Behav Anal. (2004) 37:417–20. doi: 10.1901/jaba.2004.37-417


Dr Kevin J. Black
Washington University in St. Louis

More and more, tic researchers are combining data across research groups. Combining data this way raises scientific and practical issues that must be addressed, but doing so also allows novel insights that could not have been practicably achieved at a single center, or at least not nearly as quickly. It was a pleasure for Dr. Greene and me to participate in this work.

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