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Behavioral therapy offered at Duke University Medical Center clinic helps control tics

Since he was a young child, Tourette's syndrome made it difficult for Rick Shocket to cross a room.

The disorder made him feel compelled to do a deep knee bend with nearly every step, leaving him exhausted by the end of the day.

A myriad of tics included sniffs, coughs, yips, fidgets and twitches.

But the nine-year-old from Cary has learned to control much of these problems with the help of behavioral therapy at a Duke University Medical Center clinic.

He can now recognize the warning signs that precede the tics then resist the urge to perform them. The therapy also has enabled him to stop many of the prescription medications he took.

Common thought on Tourette's syndrome held that the tics are involuntary and that it's best for those with the illness to simply ignore them.

The habit-reversal training offered at Duke teaches the exact opposite, instructing patients to stay hyper-aware of tics so they can anticipate and suppress them.

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