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Tics

Find out about some of the most common types of tics, including movements (motor tics) and sounds (phonic or vocal tics).

Tics are uncontrolled body movements or sounds.

There are many different types of tic. Some people may only have one type, while others may have several.

Some of the more common types of tic are described below.

Movement tics

Tics that result in body movements are known as "motor tics".

Common examples include:

  • blinking or twitching the eyes
  • wrinkling the nose or grimacing
  • biting the lip or moving the tongue (such as sticking the tongue out)
  • jerking or banging the head
  • twisting the neck
  • squatting, hopping or bending over to touch the floor
  • snapping the fingers
  • shrugging the shoulders
  • touching other people or things
  • obscene gestures or movements

Tics may sometimes appear to be similar to normal movements, but they cannot be controlled.

Some people are able to delay a tic for a short time, but eventually the urge to do it becomes too strong.

Sound tics

Sound tics are known as "vocal tics" or "phonic tics".

Common examples include:

  • coughing
  • grunting
  • animal noises, such as barking
  • snorting
  • hissing
  • sniffing
  • clearing the throat
  • squeaking
  • repeating a sound, word or phrase
  • using obscene or offensive words and phrases (this is uncommon)

Sometimes the normal flow of speech may be interrupted, or the tic may occur at the beginning of a sentence in a similar way to a stammer.


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