For many people with Tourette Syndrome, tics, though often visible, are not necessarily the problem. Other less visible symptoms may interfere with daily functioning or an individual’s learning capacity. There are a number of conditions associated with Tourette Syndrome, some more common than others.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
Obsessions consists of repetitive, unwanted or bothersome intrusive thoughts.
Compulsive behaviours include repetitive, often ritualistic actions in which the person feels that something must be done over and over, often in a very specific manner. Examples include touching an object with one hand after touching it with the other hand to “even things up”, or repeatedly checking to see that the flame on the stove is turned off. Children sometimes beg their parents to repeat a sentence many times until it “sounds right”.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD or ADHD) (with or without the hyperactivity):
Children may show signs of hyperactivity before TS symptoms appear.
Indications of ADHD may include:
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Failing to finish what is started
- Not seeming to listen
- Being easily distracted
- Often acting before thinking
- Easily overwhelmed and frustrated
- Shifting constantly from one activity to another
- Needing a great deal of supervision
- And general fidgeting.
Adults may exhibit signs of ADHD such as:
- Overly impulsive behavior
- Concentration difficulties
- And the need to move constantly
ADD without hyperactivity includes all of the above symptoms except for the high level of activity.
Learning Disabilities include dyslexia, reading, writing and perceptual difficulties, problems with visual/motor integration.
Behavioral problems may also result from obsessive compulsive traits, attention problems, poor self-esteem due to TS symptoms, and poor school performance.
Sleep disorders may include walking or talking in one’s sleep, delayed sleep onset and frequent awakenings.
There may also be difficulties with impulse control in which routine interactions may rapidly escalate into major confrontations resulting in inappropriate behaviours, ranging from mild unruliness to explosive, defiant rage and aggression altogether out of proportion to the underlying incident.