Tic Disorders and Tourette Syndrome Assessment

At Possibilities, physicians with expertise in neuroscience and development offer Tic Disorder/Tourette Syndrome Assessments to children, teens, and adults. With this assessment, physicians can determine whether a Tic Disorder—like Tourette Syndrome (TS)—is present and whether it explains the repetitive behaviours you’ve noticed from your child, teen, or adult.
Here are questions we are often asked about our specialized Tic Disorders/Tourette Syndrome Assessment, along with our answers.

This assessment will help determine whether your child has Tourette Syndrome or a Tic Disorder. Knowing the diagnosis is an important first step in determining what treatments will be most effective. For tics, new therapies like CBIT (Comprehensive Behavioural Intervention for Tics) might be helpful.

Tics are repetitive, involuntary movements or vocalizations such as blinking, nose twitching, throat clearing, or sniffing. You might have heard that tics are all about swearing or using inappropriate language, especially in Tourette Syndrome (TS). Science says that assumption is wrong! In Tourette Syndrome most tics do not involve swearing at all.

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurobiological brain difference—which means it is a neurodevelopmental condition—where tics are a symptom. Tourette Syndrome is diagnosed when a person has had both movement and vocal tics for more than a year.

No. Tics, by definition, are involuntary. Some individuals may have some control over their tics, but not 24/7. And saying “stop!” or providing rewards and consequences will not be effective either. In fact, the more people talk about tics or point them out, the more likely the tics will get worse! Treating tics requires a highly specialized treatment plan. It also requires a therapist with highly specialized training in treating tics. A clinician who does more general forms of therapy will not be effective when it comes to reducing tics that are stressful for a child, teen, or adult.

If a child, teen, or adult wants to reduce specific tics, then there are options, such as specialized behaviour therapy called CBIT, or medication.

Yes! At Possibilities, we have clinicians trained in CBIT, which stands for Comprehensive Behavioural Intervention for Tics. CBIT is an exciting, well-researched, and scientifically-supported behaviour therapy designed specifically to help individuals with Tic Disorders lessen their tics. CBIT is a drug-free option for tic management done with a therapist trained in this technique. At Possibilities, our trained clinicians offer CBIT to children, adolescents, and adults.  You can learn more about CBIT here.

No. In people with persistent tics, there is a very high chance (86%!) that other difficulties are present, too. These added challenges can include ADD/ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and self-regulation difficulties that can affect thoughts, feelings, and actions. Often, these coexisting conditions can cause more difficulties for people with Tic Disorders than the tics themselves. If treatment is focused on tics only, other concerns could be missed and get worse over time. It’s important to have an integrated treatment plan for all conditions that may be present along with the tics.

A detailed assessment of tics can help you figure that out. And no, this is not something you need to figure out on your own. We can help! We have assessed thousands of children, teens, and adults at the Possibilities Clinic. We are specialists, not generalists. That means we have expertise in Tic Disorders, like Tourette Syndrome, and in the conditions that often go along with tics. We stay up-to-date with the latest research and follow current guidelines for assessing and treating these disorders.

We only offer treatments that are supported by science. If you’ve heard about a treatment and we don’t offer it, ask us why. Most likely, the science is not strong enough for us to offer it to our patients. A treatment might sound scientific, but that doesn’t mean it is. Scient-iffy  is our word for science-sounding claims and treatments that have minimal to no scientific support to back them up. The absence of real data makes many claims and treatments  “iffy”—meaning unproven and full of uncertainty. We stand by science and all things scientific. We never settle for “scientiffy” and neither should you!

At Possibilities we offer an OHIP-covered appointment with a physician who has expertise in the diagnosis of Tic Disorders and Tourette Syndrome. The physician will review all background information you provide prior to the appointment. In a comprehensive clinical interview, the physician will take a detailed medical and developmental history, ask you about the length, nature and severity of tics, and explore whether other conditions, like learning and attention problems, might be present. The physician will then advise you on the next steps you and your family can take.

Yes. At least one parent must be present for the assessment interview. Your child or teen must also be available. Younger children might be present for only part of the interview, while teens may wish to stay for the duration. The physician will be able to receive information about tics from both you and your child or teen with this arrangement. Chances are your child or teen will display tics in the interview, too, and those tics are important for the physician to see. Speaking with your child or teen directly can also help the physician determine whether CBIT might be a good treatment option. CBIT requires clients to be aware of their tics, frustrated and bothered by them, and motivated to change them—so motivated that they are diligent in performing weekly exercises when tics emerge to try and lessen them. Ages 8 or 9 is often a good starting point for CBIT.

Our physicians have deep expertise in Tic Disorders, including Tourette Syndrome. But their expertise extends beyond tics, with specialized knowledge in disorders that often go along with tics like ADHD and Learning Disabilities. If the physician has concerns that other conditions might be occurring along with a Tic Disorder, a specialized assessment will be suggested. Our comprehensive assessment exploring whether ADD/ADHD is present is called a Focus Forward 360 AssessmentA more extensive assessment looking at whether ADHD and any Learning Disabilities are present together is called a Signature AssessmentThese assessments are done by Multidisciplinary Teams which include physicians and  health professionals from psychology and psychometry.

At any age! Good outcomes can happen with the right Treatment Plan, but a comprehensive assessment comes first. Currently, Possibilities offers Tic Disorders/Tourette Syndrome assessment and treatments for children, adolescents, and adults. 

Yes! Recommendations cannot be general, and they cannot be vague. Recommendations must be targeted, specific, and supported by science, and they must be personalized for the individual experiencing tics. If the physician suspects other challenges are impeding success based on the Tic Disorder Assessment interview, further investigation with a comprehensive Multidisciplinary Team assessment will be suggested, like a Focus Forward 360 or Signature Assessment. Information gathered from these assessments—including any diagnoses that might be made—can be used to craft more recommendations that target all the areas where support is needed.

The Tic Disorder/Tourette Syndrome Assessment for children, teens, and adults is a single appointment with a doctor lasting approximately 50 to 90 minutes.

In most cases, the physician will share with you whether a Tic Disorder or Tourette Syndrome has been diagnosed at the end of the single session appointment.

The Tic Disorder/Tourette Syndrome Assessment for children, teens, adults is an appointment with a physician that is covered by OHIP. If the physician recommends a Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Team Assessment like Focus Forward 360 to examine attention further, or a Signature Assessment to see if a Learning Disability explains challenges at school, there is a cost since OHIP does not cover the work and testing materials of health professionals from psychometry and psychology on the Assessment Team. The cost of these assessments is often covered by private insurance plans. Therapies such as CBIT are provided by non-physician professionals and are also not covered by OHIP. CBIT treatment costs may be covered by your private insurance plan.

Yes! If you, your child, or another adult you care about has been diagnosed with tics previously, you may have lingering questions. Tics can wax and wane over time, too, so they can come and go with varying degrees of intensity. Maybe new tics have emerged and you need advice on how to manage them. Maybe you or your child has lived with specific tics for a long time and you would like to consult with a doctor about current treatments that might be right for you. An OHIP-covered Tic Disorder/Tourette Syndrome Assessment appointment can be used to make decisions about whether a Tic Disorder can be diagnosed. It can also be used to consult with our medical expert about next steps if Tourette Syndrome or a Tic Disorder has  already been diagnosed elsewhere.

Yes! Our Tic Disorder/Tourette Syndrome Assessment is now available throughout Ontario over secure video sessions. If you have a computer and a high-speed internet connection, appointments can be attended from the comfort of your home.

Yes. All our physicians are licensed to see people in Ontario only. If you live anywhere in Ontario, you can be accessed remotely. You and your child or teen—or clients being seen as adults 18 years of age or older—must be physically present in Ontario at the time of the video appointment.

Yes. A specialized physician is involved in the Tic Disorder/Tourette Syndrome Assessment, so a doctor’s referral is required.

Please fill out our Registration Form. Once we have this form and the physician referral, a Care Team member will call you to set up an appointment.

For any questions, email us at info@possibilitiesclinic.com or call 1-833-482-5558 to speak to one of our members of the Care Team.

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