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Advice for health professionals about Tourette Syndrome

It is essential that people with Tourette Syndrome (TS) get the correct treatment and support to deal with their condition. On noticing symptoms of TS the first thing most people will do is speak to their GP, so it is important that doctors understand the condition and know the steps to a correct diagnosis and treatment.

Tourettes Action understands that TS is a complicated condition and not one that all healthcare professionals have experience of working with. That is why we have put together information for doctors and other healthcare professionals to inform them about TS, treatment and support available for people with the condition. 

What is TS and how is it treated?

Tourette Syndrome is an inherited, neurological condition, the key features of which are tics, involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements. TS is a complex condition and covers a wide spectrum of symptoms and associated behaviours, including OCD and ADHD. Only 10 per cent of people with TS swear. Each person with TS has different tics and will experience diverse symptoms.

There is no cure for TS, but there are various treatments available including medication and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

You can find more information in our About TS section, or download our ‘What makes us tic?’ booklet, which explains more about the condition.

To keep up to date with the latest news and developments about TS, view our research section. You will find details of latest surveys and research projects, many of which are open for your patients to get involved in.

BMJ Learning podcast on Tourette Syndrome

Listen to a BMJ Learning podcast with TA Chief Executive, Suzanne Dobson, on the subject of Tourette Syndrome.

How to diagnose TS

To have a diagnosis of TS, patients must have shown both motor and vocal tics for a minimum of a year. TS should be clinically diagnosed by a specialist. We have a list of people in the UK who have special knowledge about TS which is available free of charge from us. Please contact our Helpdesk for a copy.

GPs should refer patients who are showing signs of TS to a consultant on this list. It is quite common for people with TS not to tic when they are nervous or anxious. If, when you observe a patient in your surgery, they do not tic, ask them to make a diary and videos of their symptoms at home for you to look at.

Support available for people with TS

If your patient is diagnosed with TS, there is support available that you should let them know about. Support from Tourettes Action includes identity cards, small financial grants and local support groups. Read more about support available.

You can also refer your patients to local services, such as disability organisations. Your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) may be able to help younger patients with some of their symptoms of TS, especially those with anger issues, anxiety, obsessions and compulsions, sleep problems and co-morbidities such as OCD and ADHD.

Information for your surgery or clinic

If you would like information about TS to share in your surgery or clinic we would be happy to send you copies of our leaflets free of charge. Please contact our helpdesk with details of where you would like them sent and how many you would like.

"Having a diagnosis has meant that I can access the help and support I need to be independent and happy"






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