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Taipei City Hospital


Children Who Love Making Faces: A Look into Tourette’s Syndrome in Children

       Zhi, a child in the fourth grade, has frequently been scolded by his mother recently because he is always winks uncontrollably or clears his throat to relieve its itchiness. His mother would get angry at him for not listening to adults, which makes him nervous and his condition even more uncontrollable. Even his classmates laugh at him for being a “weird kid.” Zhi’s mother thought it was a simple cold or allergies, but the doctor’s medication did not help. Their neighbor mentioned to her that this might be Tourette’s syndrome, and that Zhi needed to see a pediatric neurologist.

      Pediatric neurologist Xu Jiarui of the Yangmin Branch of Taipei City Hospital tells us that Tourette’s syndrome is common in school-age children, with a prevalence rate of 1~3%. Most patients exhibit symptoms at the age of 5 to 6, become most severe during puberty, and then see the symptoms subside or improve thereafter. The symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome are divided into motor and vocal types. Motor types include blinking, sniffling, smirking, and the twitching of shoulders and limbs. Vocal types include clearing the throat, making strange noises, or mimicking animal sounds. These symptoms are aggravated when the child is nervous, excited, or fatigued.

       Children with Tourette’s syndrome have a high ratio of having other psychological disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive–compulsive disorder, anxiety, or depression. When doctors evaluate children with Tourette’s syndrome, we need to consider the coexisting psychological disorders instead of focusing only on Tourette’s syndrome. Determine the major influence it has on the child’s daily activities, then decide if the child requires medication or other treatment options.