Tourette Syndrome is an inherited, neurological condition, its key features are tics, involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements. The tics are usually of a mild nature, however in the more extreme condition they can manifest themselves in involuntary swearing or making obscene or otherwise unacceptable movements or gestures.
The disorder is named after Gilles de la Tourette, the French neurologist and neuropsychiatrist, , who in 1885, whilst working at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, described 9 cases of this condition.
TS was primarily thought to be a very rare disorder. We now know that 1-5 out of 1,000 - 10,000 peopleis affected by it (according to different statistical data). TS occurs in all cultures and ethnic groups. The research has shown that women are 3 to 4 times more likely to be affected by TS.
Tic is a repeated movement and sound that is chronic (long-term) and involuntary, in which different group of muscles can be involved. Person with ticks experiences them as involuntary, compulsive and violent. Sometimes tics can be suppressed for a limited time, but suppressing can be very uncomfortable and may cause anxiety.
The spectrum of tics and other symptoms associated with TS is extremely wide. There are two basic categories and many types of tics :
Motor tics: Eye blinking, head jerking, shoulder shrugging and facial grimacing.
Vocal tics: Throat clearing, yelping and other noises, sniffing, coughing and tongue clicking.
Motor tics: Jumping, touching other people or things, smelling, twirling and sometimes (and not very often) hitting or biting oneself as well as Copropraxia (the making of obscene or otherwise unacceptable movements or gestures) and Echopraxia (repeating other peoples movements and gestures) .
Vocal tics: Uttering words or phrases out of context, sometimes but not too often - coprolalia (saying socially unacceptable words), echolalia (repeating a sound, word, or phrase just heard) and palilalia (repeating involuntary ones own words, phrases or syllables).
Diagnostic classification of tics (DSM-IV and ICD-10)
There is a tendency to generalise all types of tics as the symptoms of the same disorder, whereas all various tic disorders are classified according to the intensity of occurring tics.
According to DMS-IV there are three tic disorders: Tourette Syndrome, Chronic Tic Disorder (either motor or vocal) and Transient Tic Disorder.
The ICD -10 classification distinguishes the following types of tic disorder.
Most people with TS lead ordinary life, they become lawyers, musicians or teachers.
Amongst the famous people with TS are:
Dr Samuel Johnson, an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature, an author of the first English Dictionary.
Dmitry, Tolstoy's brother, portrayed in Anna Karenina as Nicholas Levin
Julius Wechter, member of the famous band, called Tijuana Brass
Jim Eisenreich, American baseball player
Ticks usually start at the age of 7, but can occur anytime between 2 and 15 years of age. Motor tics affecting face, such as eye blinking or grimacing are usually the first symptoms of TS. Later on, more complex tics can be observed, such as licking ones lips, sniffing, spitting, hitting and jumping, etc...Vocal tics appeared usually in a later age, on average when a child becomes 11 years old.
The intensity of ticks differs depending on each person. Some people may have such a mild form, that they themselves and those close to them may not even be aware that they have TS. In most serious cases tics can be so intense, that they cause problems and obstacles to a person with TS and those close to them - family, friends, co-workers or teachers. Most cases of the disorder have a mild form though.
There are many different factors that can intensify tics, such as: stress, anxiety, boredom, tiredness, irritation, excitement as well as various chemical substances; such as alcohol, caffeine or amphetamine.
TS is a chronic disorder and can last the whole life. Tics can wax and wane, there can also be periods of remission. Tics tend to get the most intense during the puberty and can wane afterwards.
The Association offers support to persons with Tourette Syndrome and their families. We create opportunities for them to meet up and interact. Our objective is also to share the awareness about the nature of Tourette Syndrome and indicate the opportunities for therapy.
In order to meet these objectives, the Association has embarked on educational campaign based on spreading the information and publications about TS. The Association collaborates with the specialists and relevant authorities in the fields of education, health and science research.
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Tourette Syndrom Association of Poland enjoys a preferential tax treatment as a Public Benefit Organisation