Tourette’s Syndrome, How Does The Disorder Affect a Child as They Mature?

Tourette’s Syndrome in a child will produce many challenges for both the child and parents as the child matures. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the sooner it can be treated and parents can help the child cope with and overcome this childhood mental illness. While it is not curable per se, many people can live normal and productive lives despite suffering with Tourette’s Syndrome.

In this Mental Health Guide article, you will learn how Tourette’s syndrome can affect a child as they mature.

What is Tourette’s Syndrome?

While the definition continues to be refined, Tourette’s is believed to be a neurological defect that is genetic in nature. More specifically, it might be the result of a problem with the brain’s neurotransmitters that interrupts the normal flow of nerve signals from cell to cell.

Tourette’s Syndrome, or TS, almost always appears first in childhood with symptoms that include mood disorders, physical ticks, phonic (vocal) ticks, and in a rare form of the disorder, pulling out hair.

Treatment for Tourette’s Syndrome in Children

If you believe your child might be suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome, the first step is to discuss your concerns with your pediatrician. An observation and evaluation can be made to produce a diagnosis. Neurological tests might also be done to rule out other potential causes of the ticks such as brain abnormalities or tumors.

Treatment options are still being refined as well. If the ticks do not impair the child’s functioning, then they are usually not treated with medication. In extreme cases, drug treatment is given in order to calm the tics. However, to help with your child’s stress level, antidepressants could be prescribed. Your child’s pediatrician or a mental health specialist will be able to discuss whether active treatment is recommended.

The Effects on the Child as they Mature

A child who grows up with Tourette’s will be well-adjusted to their condition. It will be their “normal.” . However, as they begin to interact with others and become more aware, they will come to realize that they have a condition not shared by most other children.

The effect might be that the child becomes self-conscious and withdraws from social interactions. As a parent, you can help alleviate these concerns by not treating your child’s TS as a “big deal.” Be understanding of their concerns, but let them know that every child is unique in some way.

In addition, some children with Tourette’s Syndrome develop substance abuse problems, eating disorders or other mood disorders later in life.

Helping Your Child Deal with Tourette’s Syndrome

  • When children are active in sports and other physical pursuits, their tics are milder and less frequent. These activities can be very good for your child’s overall physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Children with TS are often very understanding and sensitive to the needs of others. Including your child in age-appropriate service to others will boost their confidence and allow them to be less conscious of their TS.
  • Look for a support group in your area. Allow your child to interact with other TS kids while you get support from other adults dealing with the same challenges you are.

Children with TS don’t have to feel shame or a lack of confidence because of their condition. These tips and suggestions will help you to help them deal effectively with Tourette’s Syndrome as they mature.