Tourettes Action
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Is it common to pick up a tic or for the person to hear one being mentioned and have to do it?

The reason I ask is because when we saw the paediatrician last time I was talking about my son popping all of his joints, my son then began popping each one in turn. The paediatrician then told me it wasn't a tic and was just a habit he had gotten into. My son tells me it has the same urge and feeling as his other tics.

Currently his diagnosis is childhood tic disorder.

Thank you

6 Replies


I think tics are highly suggestible. My son often used to exhibit a particular tic if it was mentioned. I've also seen several programs on TV about TS (usually involving more seriously affected people) and they often set each other off & can pick up on each others tics. The strangest I saw was when one man's urge to perform a tic was alleviated by someone else doing it.

My son also has OCD and there can be some grey areas regarding what is a tic and what is a compulsion: the compulsions can be controlled with CBT, whereas the tics cannot. However, neither is a 'habit'. I think that was a really unhelpful comment by the paediatrician. The stress of sitting and talking about the tics will make them worse and now your son has the added pressure of thinking that he should be able to stop if he wants too!! Which is clearly crap, because everyone with a tic disorder wants it to stop.

I am assuming it is a general paediatrician you've been seeing, rather than a specialist (which are as rare as hens teeth anyway!). You could ask your GP if your son could be referred to another hospital for a second opinion. The Tourettes action website has really useful information about tics, as well as info leaflets for teachers.

best wishes.


Tics are suggestible in many ways. Sometimes by being with other ticcers but more often as soon as the tic is mentioned. I am surprised that pediatrician didn't recognise this. Perhaps they are not a TS specialist. We have a consultants list available from Tourettes Action which might be useful if you wanted to ask to see a TS specialist

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Thanks for the replies, I thought as much based on my limited knowledge.

The paediatrician we see is for my sons autism so not a TS specialist. He's fab with the autism though so I'd hate to change him which is a pain.


I find that talking about certain tics or hearing them mentioned can set them off for me. I don't have a problem with talking to people about it, but it can be a little frustrating sometimes when I'm really calm and someone launches into a conversation about the tics... leading to the tics kicking off some more.

I do also pop my knuckles and joints in my hands and I have always done it from an early age... I don't usually do it consciously, but I don't think it's a tic - I think it's more of a compulsion than anything.

Dunno if that ramble was any help, hope it was. :)


Yes absolutely! Even a 'thought' can start of a tic or a memory of an old one can start it back up :(

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i pick things up all the time i instantly aquire someones accent which can be funny but only if the person isnt offended


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