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Tics & Twitches

Tics & Twitches

What Is It?

A tic or twitch is repetitive without purpose and usually cannot be controlled. Tics can be vocal or motor and simple or complex. A simple motor tic is associated with the face/head/neck region, such eye blinking and shoulder shrugging. A simple vocal tic could be throat clearing or coughing. A complex motor tic could include touching objects or other people, jumping up and down, spinning around, or even copying someone else’s actions. A complex vocal tic may involve having to repeat one phrase over and over again.

Tourette’s syndrome can be simple motor tics of the head, face, neck, and shoulder region or simple vocal tics. Eye blinking is the most common ‘first tic,’ but having this tic does not necessarily mean you will develop Tourette’s. There are several factors that can influence tics, such as stress, arousal, starting to relax, feeling tired, allergies and environmental heat. Factors that can decrease tics include being distracted, during sleep and during tasks that require skill.

What Might Help?

  • Talking to someone: Talking to a friend or family member about your tics might be helpful.
  • Learning ways to relax: Reducing stress and being aware that you may experience more tics at certain times.
  • Learning ways to accept: This could be through learning coping strategies, confidence building, social skills training or talking with someone about your thoughts and feelings related to the tics.
  • Behavioural Therapy: If the tics are really affecting you, behavioural therapy may be helpful. It includes exploring triggers, adapting tics and learning to cope with sensations and urges.

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