It’s a nightmare watching your child struggle with tics and observing how it affects their mental health, social engagement and self-confidence, and academic performance.
At The Brain Collective, we are experienced in helping families overcome their difficulties with Tics and Tourette’s by using a completely non-invasive, drug-free approach to healing tics.
Research has shown Tourette’s Syndrome, also known as Gilles de la Tourette, when treated with neurofeedback training saw a significant reduction in tic frequency within four weeks and often significant reduction if not complete cessation of tics, even in cases unresponsive to medication.
Other affected symptoms and cognitive performance all saw improvement and more research is being undertaken internationally to corroborate this and to make people more aware of the immense potential for neurofeedback therapy healing Tic’s and Tourette’s.
What is Tourette’s Syndrome?
Those suffering from Tourette’s syndrome struggle with unwanted, sudden, often repetitive, involuntary sounds and movements called tics. The average age when symptoms start to appear is age six but they can appear from ages two to fourteen. Most children with this syndrome suffer from a combination of vocal and physical tics. Sometimes the tics improve naturally over time but often people struggle with it their whole lives if neither diagnosed nor treated. It is more common in men and often hereditary.
Many children have tics for a few months which then disappear, so if your child has tics they do not necessarily suffer from Tourette’s syndrome.
Diagnosis usually takes place in the usual channels and begins with a physical exam and review of medical history. Doctors look for two motor tics and at least one vocal tic that have persisted for at least a year before age 18. CT scans and MRIs are usually conducted to rule out other causes of the symptoms.
People and children with Tourette’s syndrome may also suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning difficulties and suffer from anxiety and depression due to bullying in school.
Behavioural therapy can help reduce the frequency or severity of tics via habit reversal. The approach involves working out the feelings that trigger the tics and finding alternative ways to relieve the urges.
The ERP method (exposure with response prevention) teaches you how to tolerate the tic until the feeling passes.
When tics are severe and affect daily life, psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists have been involved and patients have been prescribed antipsychotics to bring down dopamine levels, adrenergic inhibitors to treat impulse control, stimulants to increase attention and concentration (when associated with ADHD), and antidepressants to relieve anxiety and depression caused by the exacerbated problems.
Some families even try Deep Brain Stimulation which is an invasive procedure where they essentially put electrodes/needles into the brain.
Medication often has side effects, does not treat underlying causes and none of the above methods eliminate the tics.
Tics are not harmful to overall health but physical ones can be painful. Some days can be worse than others and tics may be heightened in periods of stress, anxiety or tiredness.
Most of those suffering with Tourette’s syndrome experience a strong urge (like an itch or a need to sneeze) just before a tic. These feelings are known as premonitory sensations. Premonitory sensations are relieved after the tic has been carried out and include burning eyes, dry throat and itchy joints and muscles. Some children can control their tics but it is tiring for them. Others have a sudden release of tics after getting home from school. Tics may be less at times that involve a lot of concentration like playing sport or reading.
Simple motor tics involve a limited number of muscles and include grimacing, blinking, darting eyes, rolling eyeballs, shrugging shoulders, twitching nose or eyelids. More complex tics involve several muscle groups and include banging or jerking ones head or limbs, jumping, twirling, twisting and sniffing or touching objects.
As with motor tics, vocal tics can also be either simple or complex. Simple vocal tics include sniffing, grunting or clearing ones throat. Coughing, whistling, clicking ones tongue and making animal sounds are also common. More complex tics include involuntary swearing (or inappropriate behaviour, remarks or aggression), shouting out, and repeating words or phrases. Swearing is rare and affects one in ten people affected by the syndrome.
The exact causes are not known but some believe the condition may be caused by a complex trait influenced by genetic, developmental, and neurological factors like a misfiring of nerve cells in the basal ganglia (which controls movement).
Others believe the causes are multifactorial and may include infections, gut issues and dietary sensitivities.
From our perspective it is a paroxysmal event and therefore demonstrates an instability of the brain – similar to a seizure/migraine.
At The Brain Collective, we use neurofeedback therapy which is completely comfortable (and even enjoyable), safe, non-invasive and drug-free to treat underlying neurological issues, working to heal the brain itself, resulting in a significant reduction in tic frequency and often a complete cessation of tics.