Dr. Ahorro, pediatric neurologist, shares in this exclusive interview an insider look on these two oftentimes misunderstood and misdiagnosed disorders:
Tourette’s Syndrome, a disorder that medical tests have yet to diagnose, presents itself through a series of repetitive involuntary jerking body motions or sounds known as “tics”. Dr. George Gilles De La Tourette of France identified this neurological disease in 1885.
Asperger’s Syndrome, or a mild classification of autism, reveals itself through social and emotional withdrawal, as well as eccentric habits, obsessive compulsive traits, and specific areas of interest that distract the child from age appropriate pursuits. Dr. Hans Asperger of Austria identified this disorder in 1944.
SP: What are the basic symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome and at what age do they usually manifest?
DR. AHORRO (D.A.): The initial clinical picture of TS is usually one of multifocal (ed: coming from one or two places) tics affecting the face and head. These progress to vocal tics such as grunting, coughing sneezing, and barking, and, in most severe cases, to coprolalia (involuntary swearing) or compulsive echolalia (the repetition of sounds copied from another person). Comorbidities (the presence of more disorders) such as attention-deficit disorder, learning disabilities, and serious psychiatric disorders are seen in some patients with TS.
Symptoms generally appear between ages 5 and 10 years. Although periods of remission occur and TS tends to become less severe after adolescence, the condition usually persists for life, and only 8% of children have complete and permanent remission.
SP: What are the first noticeable symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome? Is this very distinguishable from Autism?
DA: Asperger’s syndrome is thought to be possibly distinct from relatively high functioning autism, nonetheless, it is highly similar to and possibly on a continuum with autism.
Click here to learn more about the symptoms and cures for Asperger's Syndrome.