Welcome to the UC Davis MIND Institute » and Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD) » resource page for Tourette Syndrome

What is Tourette Syndrome?

Tourette Syndrome is an inherited, neurological disorder characterized by repeated involuntary movements and uncontrollable vocal (phonic) sounds called tics.  In a few cases, such tics include inappropriate words and phrases.  Symptoms generally appear before age 18.  The first symptoms are usually facial tics commonly eye blinking.  However, facial tics can also include nose twitching or grimaces.  With time, other motor tics may appear, such as head jerking, neck stretching, floor stamping, body twisting and bending.

Tics alternately increase and decrease in severity and periodically change in number, frequency, type and location.  Symptoms may subside for weeks or months at a time and later recur.  Persons with Tourette syndrome may utter strange and unacceptable sounds, words or phrases.  It is not uncommon for a person to continuously clear the throat, cough, sniff, grunt, yelp, bark or shout. 

People with Tourette syndrome may involuntary shout obscenities or constantly repeat the words of other people.  They may touch other people excessively or repeat actions obsessively and unnecessarily.  A few people with severe Tourette syndrome demonstrate self-harming behaviors such as lip and cheek biting and head banging against hard objects.

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