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Blue Skies

List of Possible Tics

Everyone with Tourette syndrome has a different experience and the list of possible tics would be endless. Here is a list of common and some not-so-common tics divided into motor and vocal categories:

Motor Tics

eye movements: Tics that involve movements of the eyeball(s) or eyelids.  It is very common for an eye movement tic to be the first or one of the first tics – e.g.:

  • Eyeblinking (e.g., multiple quick blinks or a longer hard blink)

  • Moving eyes in certain directions (e.g., looking briefly to the left)

  • Squinting

  • Opening eye wide

  • Emotional eye gestures (e.g., surprised, confused, etc)

facial movements: Tics that involve the nose, mouth, brow and/or cheek muscles – e.g.:

  • Eyebrow raise

  • Facial grimace (i.e., making a face)

  • Wiggling lips back and forth

simple body-part movements: Tics that occur throughout the body as small movements – e.g.:

  • Head shaking

  • Shoulder shrugs

  • Hand flapping

  • Toe wiggling

muscle tensing: Tics that involve muscle contractions.  Many of these tics are not visible to an outside observer – e.g.:

  • Stomach

  • Thighs

  • Hamstring

  • Neck

  • Buttocks

complex motor tics: Tics that involve movements of multiple muscle groups, purposeful movements, slow moving tics, and/or multiple basic tics occurring in a chain.  These tics take endless possible forms, but here are a few:

  • Bending, gyrating or rotating

  • Running, sitting or standing

  • Dystonic postures – movements that involve slow twisting or squeezing of an area of the body with the end position being temporarily held; usually the end point looks unnatural.  A common example is a partial upper torso twist along with a neck twist where the upper body and head are then briefly held in what looks to be an uncomfortable position (which often includes a mask-like facial expression).

  • Echopraxia – repeating the gestures of someone else

  • Copropraxia – denotes any tic that mirrors an inappropriate gesture – e.g.: putting up ones middle finger

  • Self-injurious tics – tics that can lead to direct physical injury (e.g. head banging; sticking objects against the eye).  More severe versions of these tics are uncommon, but can sometimes require hospitalization as a means to prevent the tic from occurring.  Tics that cause muscle pain through repeated movement do not fall into this category.

Vocal Tics

simple vocal/phonic tics: Tics that involve the movement of air and typically result in sound.  Sounds made without the movement of air, such as snapping the fingers, still count as motor tics.  Here are some examples of simple vocal tics:

  • Puffs of air in or out of mouth or nose

  • Grunting

  • Squeaking

  • Coughing

  • Animal sounds (e.g., bird chirps, pig grunts, dog barks, etc)

complex vocal/phonic tics: Tics that involve words or pieces of words – e.g.:

  • Syllables

  • Words

  • Phrases

  • Echolalia – repeating someone else's syllables, words or phrases 

  • Palilalia – repeating ones own syllables, words or phrases

  • Coprolalia – tics that mirror inappropriate words (e.g., swear words, ethnic slurs, etc.)

  • Blocking – a tic where speaking is disrupted because an individual cannot get the sound out

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