Tourette's Syndrome | Diagnosis & Treatment

How is Tourette's syndrome diagnosed?

A pediatrician, child psychiatrist, or a qualified mental health professional usually identifies Tourette's syndrome in children and adolescents. A comprehensive evaluation of the child or adolescent's psychological, social, and educational status is recommended, as well as a thorough medical, developmental, and family assessment. A detailed history of the child's behavior from parents and teachers, in addition to observations of the child's behavior, contribute to making the diagnosis.

What is the treatment for Tourette's syndrome?

Specific treatment for Tourette's syndrome will be determined by your child's physician based on: 

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • the extent of disruption caused by tic behavior
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the syndrome
  • your opinion or preference

The effect of symptoms on the child's or adolescent's self-concept, family and peer relationships, and classroom participation determines what needs may need to be addressed in treatment. In many cases, TD is not disabling. Development may proceed normally and there is no need for treatment. However, when tics interfere with functioning or school performance, and/or if there are other disorders also present (obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), some effective medications are available. Children with TD can generally function well at home and in a regular classroom. If they have accompanying emotional or learning problems, they may require special classes, psychotherapy, and/or medication. 

The genetics behind Tourette's syndrome is complicated. For this reason, it is important for individuals and families to have genetic counseling by a geneticist (a physician with specialized training and certification in clinical genetics) or a genetic counselor, once a diagnosis has been made in the family.