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While people of all ages can experience tics and movement disorders, these conditions are most prevalent in children. Experts say that about 25% of children experience tics. Tics are far more likely to affect boys than girls.
Tourette syndrome, which is quite rare, is a severe tic disorder involving motor and vocal tics that occur many times per day. The average age at which it appears is 7 years. While children with Tourette syndrome may develop ADHD, the two disorders are separate and independent conditions.
Tics do resemble certain ADHD-related symptoms — fidgeting and making random noises, in particular — and may occasionally be mistaken for signs of ADHD. True tics, however, differ from ADHD’s fidgetiness or hyperactivity in that they almost always involve rapid, repeated, identical movements of the face or shoulders, or vocal sounds or phrases — and they may cause a child to become socially isolated.
Tics may be simple or complex. A simple tic is purposeless, such as an eye blink, a muscle twitch, a grunt or the production of a repeated noise. A complex tic consists of muscle movement with a purpose, such as scratching, throwing or chewing. A vocal complex tic is one that actually produces a word, not just a sound.