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Sudden Onset of Tics

Sudden Onset of Tics

Posted on 14 June 2021 by Pippa McClounan


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, paediatricians and child mental health practitioners have noticed an increase in tic symptoms in some children and adolescents already diagnosed with tic disorders. Interestingly, clinicians have also seen a marked increase in presentations of sudden and new onset of severe tics and ‘tic-like’ attacks.

We have put together a number of resources which can help with the understanding and management of the sudden onset of tics:


COVID-19 related increase in childhood tics and tic-like attacks

Isobel Heyman and Holan Liang from the Psychologcial Medicine Team at Great Ormond Street Hospital For Children, and Tammy Hedderly from the Tic and Neurodevelopmental Movements Service (TANDeM), Guy's King's and Saint Thomas' School of Medicine in London, have written a report titled 'COVID-19 related increase in childhood tics and tic-like attacks', which has been published in the BMJ Journals.

Click here to read the full report


Tic Attacks

The term ‘tic attack’ is often used to describe bouts of severe, continuous, non-suppressible and disabling tics which can last from a few minutes to several hours. They often include whole body writhing movements, muscle tensing and shaking. Tic attacks can create a lot of anxiety for the individual experiencing them and their families.

Click here to download our Factsheet - Tic Attacks


Tic Tips

Aside from medication and behavioral therapy, there are strategies and measures which people with TS can take
to help manage their tics. Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing tics. Everybody has
their own ways of coping; what might work for one person may not be suitable for another.

We have provided a list of creative ways to manage tics, based on feedback from people in the TS community.

Click here to download our Factsheet - Tic Tips


Pain and tics

Chewing the inside of your mouth, swinging your arm out wildly or even punching yourself in the chest are all examples of tics people can have. Tics like these can be painful to your body and can feel overwhelming. We talked to people in the TS community about strategies they use to help lessen the impact of pain caused by tics.

Click here to download our Factsheet - Pain and TS


Other Approaches

These can include diet and exercise or mindfullness techniques such as meditation and diaphragmatic breathing. 

Tourettes Action have a Guided Relaxation specifically designed to help tolerate the urge to tic, reduce stress and manage tics, available with or without music.

Click here for more information on other approaches


School issues

Supporting a child with sudden onset of tics with their education needs to be approached as a working partnership between families and school. We have lots of resources that will help educate those around the child about how they can support and manage tics in the classroom.

Click here for more information about TS and education


If you have any questions, please contact the Tourettes Action Helpdesk.

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