How Can I Support A Friend With a Tic or Tourette’s?

There are lots of ways you can give your friend help and support with their tics. Read on to find out how…

If your friend has Tourette’s syndrome or tics, you’re probably already pretty clued-up about what it means but maybe you’re less sure about how to react, what to do to help, and how to be a good friend. Here are a few helpful tips on dealing with tics and how to be a strong, supportive friend:

Educate Yourself

Tics cause a person to make involuntary sounds or movements, known as tics. This means a person with tics has no control over the physical or vocal tics they may make, such as grunting, blinking, jerking,shouting, coughing or whistling.

Tics can be made worse by stressful situations, like exams or having to talk in front of class. It can also be made worse by tiredness. When tics last for over a year, this is known as Tourette’s syndrome. Tourette’s can also be linked to OCD, ADHD and depression or anxiety.

By knowing as much as you can about tics and Tourette’s, you can be a better friend. You will realise how hard this condition can be to live with and have a better understanding of the difficulties your friend is facing. You’ll also be able to speak up against others who might have an outdated, prejudiced or ignorant view of Tourette’s and tics.

You can learn more about Tourette’s and tics here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tics/

Accept & Love

The most important thing to be a good friend to someone with tics is to let them know that you accept and love them. Don’t try to change your friend or ‘fix them’. Understand that your friend cannot simply ‘turn them off’ or reduce their tics at will, no matter how hard they try. Let your friend know you love them for exactly who they are.

Learn Your Friend’s Tics

Get to know your friend. You can ask them if they’d like to talk about their it or simply become more aware of their tics by being around them. It’s usually best to respond to a tic naturally – for example, if your friend tics something funny, it may be hard not to laugh – but you can ask your friend how they’d like you to respond. Sometimes laughing together can help your friend to relax.

Your friend might prefer it if you ignore some of their tics altogether. The only way to know for sure is to ask them to make sure you’re supporting them as best as you can.

Never Force Tics

Don’t ever try to make your friend tic or say rude words for a laugh. Tics can cause your friend a great deal of anxiety so it’s important to remember that. If your friend starts showing a new tic, try not to comment on it and let them bring it up in their own time.

Offer Support

If your friend is having more tics than usual, you might suspect they are feeling particularly stressed or anxious about something. You can be a good friend by asking if there’s something worrying them and offering to listen or talk. You could also suggest taking a walk or getting some fresh air to offer them a way of escape from a stressful situation.

A simple hand on the shoulder can help to reassure someone who is having a lot of tics. It lets them know that you’re there for them, you accept them, and you love them. And that’s what friends are for.


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