Clinical Characteristics of Children and Adolescents with a Primary Tic Disorder

Matt W. Specht, Douglas W. Woods, John Piacentini, Lawrence Scahill, Sabine Wilhelm, Alan L. Peterson, Susanna Chang, Hayden Kepley, Thilo Deckersbach, Christopher Flessner, Brian A. Buzzella, Joseph F. McGuire, Sue Levi-Pearl, John T. Walkup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The clinical characteristics and rates of co-occurring psychiatric conditions in youth seeking treatment for a chronic tic disorder (CTD) were examined. Children and adolescents (N=126) with a primary CTD diagnosis were recruited for a randomized controlled treatment trial. An expert clinician established diagnostic status via semi-structured interview. Participants were male (78.6%), Caucasians (84.9%), mean age 11.7 years (SD = 2.3) with moderate-to-severe tics who met criteria for Tourette's disorder (93.7%). Common co-occurring conditions included attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; 26%), social phobia (21%), generalized anxiety disorder (20%), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD; 19%). Motor and vocal tics with greater intensity, complexity, and interference were associated with increased impairment. Youth with a CTD seeking treatment for tics should be evaluated for non-OCD anxiety disorders in addition to ADHD and OCD. Despite the presence of co-occurring conditions, children with more forceful, complex, and/or directly interfering tics may seek treatment to reduce tic severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-31
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Anxiety
  • Comorbid
  • Impairment
  • Tics
  • Tourette's disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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