There are three major types of tic disorders listed in the DSM-5: Tourette syndrome, which is the most well-known; persistent motor or vocal tic disorder; and finally, provisional tic disorder.
Individuals with these disorders all suffer from tics, which are quick, nonrhythmic movements or vocalizations that occur over and over, and aren’t side effects of some other condition like Huntington’s disease or substance abuse.
For example, individuals might feel the urge to spontaneously and repeatedly clap their hands, make a facial grimace, grunt, or even perform hidden movements like moving the tongue around inside the mouth.
Although these actions and gestures might be appropriate in some situations, the fact that they are repeated even in inappropriate situations is why they are considered abnormal.
In addition to having a tic, three additional criteria are used to help differentiate between the three types of tic disorders.
Criteria A is the number of motor or vocal tics, criteria B is the duration of the tic disorder, and criteria C is the age of the person when they started having tics.
For a diagnosis of Tourette syndrome (also called Tourette’s), an individual must have multiple motor tics and at least one vocal tic; however, these do not have to happen at the same time.
The important thing here is that both motor and verbal tics are present.
The frequency of individual tics might change over time, but they need to persist for at least one year.
Finally, the tics must have started before the age of 18—in fact, they most often appear between the ages of 4 and 6.
Of the three types of tic disorders, Tourette’s is considered to be the most severe.