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Back to School with Tics & Tourette Syndrome

In previous years, the summer always seemed to have passed too quickly.

This year, with the pandemic and the Delta variant, many students are actually glad that summer is over and are excited to get back to in-person schooling.  Their socialization drought is now over.

And, as it happens, tics in patients with Tourette syndrome often increase this time of year.  Frequently, anxiety is a trigger for tics, and it is generally accepted that many students’ anxiety is higher during the school year than during vacations.  Other contributing factors can include fatigue and any type of stress.

Students with tics are often embarrassed and want to control them, especially while at school.  Remote learning during the pandemic made this easier, as students had the option to turn off the video and/or mute their sound during lessons.

When patients and families go through this scenario, they may feel sad, worried, frustrated, and maybe even a bit discouraged.  And I feel sad to hear about it from so many children and families who are experiencing this.  On the other hand, I feel hopeful, as I’ve had an enormous amount of experience treating individuals with tics and it is my favorite clinical problem to treat.

Although bedwetting is embarrassing, no one goes to school, raises his hand, and says, “Hey, Everyone.  I’m still wetting the bed.  Does anyone else have this problem?”

And, someone may tell another student or co-worker, “Oh, Jane.  We are so sorry that you missed school yesterday due to a migraine!  And we’re glad you’re feeling better and are back with us today!”

But tics are often physically exhausting, mentally exhausting, and emotionally exhausting.  Furthermore, students with tics are often teased and ridiculed.

So when I get to help children, adolescents, or adults with tics, that is the most rewarding part of my practice because it is absolutely life-changing for them.  Typically, my patients experience significant improvement after only 1 to 4 visits.

So, if you or someone you know is struggling with tics, with or without Tourette syndrome, feel free to send me an email through my website by clicking here.

Jeffrey Lazarus, MD October 2021