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Glossary of Terms Related to Tourette Syndrome



Akathisia - Inability to be still; a feeling of inner restlessness. A possible side effect of neuroleptic medications

Antidepressant - A prescription drug that relieves or minimizes depression

Arithmomania - Compulsive mental counting

Associated behaviors - The spectrum of behaviors sometimes seen in association with Tourette Syndrome; include OCD, ADHD, and poor impulse control

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - A neurobiological disorder causing distractibility and inability to focus attention

Basal ganglia - Structures deep in brainstem that relay messages between the prefrontal cortex and the lower motor and sensory areas

Behavior therapy - Used with OCD and other conditions such as phobias; a person is exposed to anxiety-provoking stimuli while being prevented from performing the ritual or behavior previously used to reduce that anxiety

Bi-polar disorder - Another name for manic-depression, a disorder involving extreme ups and downs in mood

CAT scan - (also known as CT scan) Computerized axial. tomography, a series of computerized X-rays of the brain

Catapres - See clonidine

Central nervous system (CNS) - Refers to voluntary activity of the brain and spinal cord

Chorea - Abrupt, quick, jerky movements of the head, neck, arms, or legs

Chromosomes - Microscopic, rod-shaped bodies in cells which contain genetic material

Clomipramine - An antidepressant medication used in Tourette Syndrome to treat symptoms of OCD

Clonidine (Catapres) - A high blood pressure medication used in treatment of TS. It can be helpful in controlling tics and ADHD symptoms.

Cognitive dulling - A common side effect of neuroleptic drugs; involves short-term memory loss and slowed thinking

Co-morbid condition - Medical term meaning a medical condition that occurs along with another medical condition, although one condition does not directly cause the other

Compulsion - The feeling of being compelled or forced to do a behavior, even though the person experiencing the compulsion does not want to do it. For example, evening things up, washing hands, cleaning

Coprolalia - Involuntary utterances of obscene or inappropriate statements or words

Depression - Disorder producing depressed mood, appetite changes, sleep changes, and sometimes suicidal thinking. Can often be treated with medication

Desipramine - A tricyclic antidepressant used in the treatment of ADHD associated with TS

Developmental disability - A handicap or impairment originating before the age of eighteen which may be expected to continue indefinitely and which constitutes a substantial disability

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) - A manual published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) which describes all of the diagnostic criteria and the systematic descriptions of various mental disorders

Dopamine - One of the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) involved in motor and vocal tics

Dyskinesia - A general term for involuntary movements

Dyslexia - One type of learning disability that affects reading ability

Echolalia - Involuntary repetition of words or phrases of others

Echopraxia - Copying the gestures of others

Etiology - The study of the cause of a disease or condition

Extrapyramidal effects - Side effects of medications

Fluoxetine (Prozac ) - An antidepressant used in TS to treat OCD and depression

Genes - Material within the chromosomes that determines specific traits, such as hair and eye color and stature

Haloperidol (Haldol) - A neuroleptic medication used to treat TS

Involuntary movements - Actions beyond one's control

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - A scan of the brain or other part of the body that employs magnetic and low-energy radiowaves. No radioactive materials or dyes are needed

Methylphenidate - A stimulant drug often prescribed for ADHD; can cause increase in tics of TS

Monozygotic twins - Identical twins

Neuroleptic - A class of medications, e.g. haloperidol, pimozide

Neurotransmitter - Any of the chemicals carrying nerve impulses across the synapse (gap) between adjacent neurons (nerve cells)

Norepinephrine - One of the brain's neurotransmitters involved in the formation and function of dopamine and serotonin.

Obsession - An unwanted recurring thought or impulse that is without purpose

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - When a person has uncontrollable thoughts and compulsive behaviors to an extent that impairs functioning

Orap - See pimozide

Palilalia - Repeating one's own words or phrases

Pimozide - A neuroleptic drug used to help reduce tics of TS

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) - An imaging technique using small amounts of radioactive material that produces a cross-sectional view of specific chemical activities in the brain

Premonitory urges - Sensations immediately preceding an involuntary movement or vocalization

Prozac - See fluoxetine

Remission - A complete absence of symptoms for a period of months to years . . . Sometimes occurs with TS

Ritalin - See methylphenidate

Serotonin - One of the brain's neurotransmitters, believed to be involved in depression and OCD

Side effects - Secondary, unwanted effects of using a medication

Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) - Device which measures brain function through blood flow and glucose metabolism

Stimulant - A psychotrophic drug such as Ritalin and dexedrine often used to control hyperactivity in children

Synapse - The gap between neurons, across which messages are carried by neurotransmitters

Tardive dyskinesia - Involuntary movements of the mouth, tongue, and lips. Some medications prescribed for Tourette Syndrome can contribute to the development of this condition

Tic - An involuntary movement (motor tic) or involuntary vocalization (vocal tic)

Titration - Process of determining how much of a medication is required to produce a desired reaction

Tourette Syndrome - A chronic, physical disorder of the brain which causes both motor tics and vocal tics, and begins before the age of eighteen

Trichotillomania - A compulsion to pull out one's own hair in order to relieve anxiety

Waxing and waning - A naturally occurring increase and decrease in severity and frequency of TS symptoms



Tourettes Our Story
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Classroom Strategies with Tourettes
Glossary of Terms for Tourettes
F.A.Q. about Tourettes
Simplified Chart for Tic ID
Common Myths about TS
Diag. Criteria for TS