More threads by Retired


Tics is what I associated with Tourette Syndrome although I did not know very much having hardly ever heard it mentioned. The cursing did not make sense to me which is what had me curious to begin with. I thought cursing would have to be secondary because as far as I know we are not born with curse words in our head.

I have watched the movie twice but have not read the book Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had: Brad Cohen, Lisa Wysocky: 9780312571399: Books - but I would like to. I thought the movie was excellent.


You've brought up an interesting point, Mari and one that is frequently misunderstood by well intentioned parents of a recently diagnosed child.

I thought cursing would have to be secondary because as far as I know we are not born with curse words in our head.

The first important point to understand about Tourette Syndrome is that it is a neurological disorder, due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, so the symptoms are entirely involuntary.

The part of the brain thought to be involved in Tourette is the basal ganglia, the gatekeeper of the brain that, in the general population, allows the appropriate muscle movement to occur for a given situation. In people with Tourette, the basal ganglia is dysfunctional, and inappropriate muscle movements are released sporadically and unexpectedly. That's what tics are...unexpected muscle contractions and extensions.

The vocal cords are muscles and they too can be the object of unexpected movements, that come out as sounds..sometimes as grunts, squeals, barks and even words.

Back to the basal ganglia, where it is thought other disorders have their basis, like OCD, ADHD and Tourette, each of which is marked by a lack of inhibition (Reference)

Tourette Syndrome is a neuro-psychiatric disorder and where there appears to be a complex interaction between the neurology of the brain and the psychiatry of the mind. The result is that some of the phonic or vocal tics expressed by a person (child) with Tourette come out as words or phrases that under ordinary circumstances would be suppressed as being socially inappropriate..but because of the disinhibition factor, inappropriate words, sounds or phrases are spoken. The technical term for these outbursts is coprolalia.

Similarly, motor tics sometimes take on socially inappropriate or sexually explicit movements, referred to as copropraxia.

Tourette tics are not behavioural and are not learned; the tics are generated by a dysfunctional basal ganglia in the brain that allows involuntary movements and sounds to be expressed.

On your other point, Brad Cohen is one of our Tourette Syndrome heroes who works tirelessly to increase awareness and to provide support for kids with Tourette. Brad lives in Atlanta, has established his own Tourette support foundation and I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at his first annual Tourette conference.
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