Best Practice

Tics and tourette’s in the classroom

Around one child in every 100 will have some form of tic disorder or Tourette’s. John Dabell looks at how these conditions manifest themselves and offers some tips for supporting young people in the classroom

Childhood tics are very common and there are many different types which are often misunderstood. Some can be barely noticeable whereas others can be quite distressing and cause social isolation, embarrassment, stigma and low self-esteem (Smith et al, 2015).

Tics are not the fault of students and they are not intentional attempts at gaining attention or to be disruptive. However, they can be unsettling for normal classroom activities and can severely affect a young person’s quality of life.

A tic is an abrupt, uncontrollable movement or sound that deviates from a person’s normal gestures. They are brief, rapid and occur intermittently and the most notable disorder is Tourette syndrome (TS).

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