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One week ago, the day after starting kindergarten, our son developed a vocal tic (making a short "hm" sound with his mouth closed). I only noticed it when reading to him. At first I thought he was doing it on purpose, and asked him to stop. He got upset and said he can't stop it. A week after this vocal tic surfaced it seems to have increased in frequency but still only noticeable when reading to him or he is watching tv or doing something quietly. When he was 3 1/2 years old he developed a blinking tic that went away after 3 or 4 weeks. We thought it was in response to changing rooms in his daycare. I did call his doctor's office (who was also aware of the previous tic), and she said it should go away on its own and to not draw attention to it. He is aware he is making this noise and seems to be self-conscious about it. Should we be concerned about this since he had a blinking tic when he was 3 1/2, and later developed this vocal tic? I am also concerned for him as he is starting school for the first time and this will lead to a bad experience for his first year.

Answer
Hi, Samantha,

Tics are common in this age group and are usually precipitated by events that are new, different or anxiety provoking.  I consider this type of tic not to be a true vocal tic, like Tourettes syndrome, but a form of a common motor tic.  Here is a handout I have used with my patients that will explain this.  

http://www.cpnonline.org/CRS/CRS/pa_ticdiso_bhp.htm

Good luck, Dr. Olson

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David Olson, MD

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I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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