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Tic Disorders and Learning Disability: Clinical Characteristics, Cognitive Performance and Comorbidity

  • Valsamma Eapen (a1) (a2), Rudi Črnčec (a1) (a2), Sarah McPherson (a3) and Corina Snedden (a3)


Tics are involuntary movements or sounds. Tourette syndrome is one of a family of tic disorders that affect around 1% of the population but which remains underrecognised in the community. In paediatric special education learning disability classes, the prevalence of individuals with tic disorders is around 20–45% — higher still in special education emotional/behavioural classes. Given the high rates of individuals with tic disorders in special education settings, as well as the unique challenges of working in an educational setting with a person with a tic disorder, it is incumbent upon professionals working in these settings to be cognisant of the possibility of tic disorders in this population. This review seeks to provide an overview of tic disorders and their association with learning and mental health difficulties. The review focuses on an exploration of factors underpinning the association between tic disorders and learning disabilities, including neurocognitive corollaries of tic disorders and the influence of common comorbidities, such as ADHD, as well as upon strategies to support individuals with tic disorders in the classroom.


Corresponding author

Correspondence: Professor Valsamma Eapen, Academic Unit of Child Psychiatry, South Western Sydney Local Health District, Liverpool Hospital, Mental Health Centre (Level 1: ICAMHS), Locked Bag 7103, Liverpool BC, NSW 1871, Australia. E-mail:


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Tic Disorders and Learning Disability: Clinical Characteristics, Cognitive Performance and Comorbidity

  • Valsamma Eapen (a1) (a2), Rudi Črnčec (a1) (a2), Sarah McPherson (a3) and Corina Snedden (a3)


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