Why do some people call TS the ‘swearing disease’?
It is a common misconception that the main symptom of TS is swearing. Up to 10% of people with TS may experience coprolalia at some point. Coprolalia is the involuntary utterance of obscenities, profanities and derogatory remarks. This extreme tic may include yelling inappropriate or culturally taboo remarks or phrases. As with all tics, the behaviour is not intentional. The extreme nature of this vocal tic can cause embarrassing and distressing situations for those affected.
When TS is represented in movies and TV shows it is common to see a person with TS exhibiting this extreme tic. This has resulted in a misrepresentation of the true nature of TS and a stereotype around swearing.
Does TS affect intelligence?
No. TS does not impact intelligence.
Does everyone with TS have the same tics?
There are many different types of tics and everyone with TS experiences tics differently. Just because two people have TS does not mean they will have similar tics in common. Also a person with TS does not always keep the same tics. Tics tend to change over time. Someone who has an eye-blinking tic, a shoulder-jerking tic, and a sniffing tic at the age of 8 may have a completely different set of tics at the age of 9.
Can people with TS control their tics?
Some people can hold their tics for short periods of time. The effort to hold or suppress tics can be difficult and requires concentration. Some people describe holding in a tic as feeling similar to having a very itchy bug bite that you cannot scratch. The effort to not tic (or not scratch the bite) takes over almost all of the person’s concentration, making it very difficult to pay attention to other things such as what the teacher is saying.
If you have tics, does that mean you have TS?
All individuals with TS have tics, but having tics does not necessarily mean you have TS. TS is the most severe type of tic disorder. There are other tic disorders such as Persistent Motor Tic Disorder, Persistent Vocal Tic Disorder, and Provisional Tic Disorder. Also there are other conditions that can cause tics including Huntington Disease, Lesdh-Neyhan Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy. Certain medications can cause tics, and tics can be a result of a head injury.