A lot of parents worry that their child with tics may develop Coprolalia (swearing and socially inappropriate tics). This is understandable as it is a highly stigmatized symptom, however developing swearing tics isn't the end of the world. A person can still be happy and successful with swearing and socially inappropriate tics.
Tips For Helping Your Child Manage Coprolalia:
- Make sure they know that they do not need to feel ashamed of this symptom. Coprolalia is not a choice and it doesn't reflect a person's true thoughts or feelings. Make sure your child knows that experiencing Coprolalia NEVER makes them a bad person. People with Tourette Syndrome are more at risk of unaliving than the general population, for some people, feelings of shame may increase this, so it is important to help your child dissolve any shame.
- Never punish your child for experiencing Coprolalia. It is uncontrollable and nothing good can come out of punishing someone for something they have zero control over. A person knows that their Coprolalia tics are socially inappropriate, but they can't control it. Pointing out that you don't like the tic can make it worse, as we will often uncontrollably tic the one thing we know we shouldn't say in a situation. It is like an intrusive thought, the more you know you shouldn't think it and the more you try to push it away, the worse it gets.
- Educate the school so that they don't send the student out of class for something they can't control. A young person shouldn't be denied education due to their Coprolalia. Coprolalia tics should just be ignored in the classroom, and other students educated on how the student can't control it but they shouldn't repeat it.
A nine year without tics old once said to me that people swearing by choice is different to people swearing uncontrollably, so children do have the ability to understand this if it is explained correctly.
- Give your child a card that explains their condition so that they can show people in public if anyone causes them any trouble because of it. Empower your child to stick up for themselves and explain that they have a disability and cannot control it. Empower your child to report teachers who do not understand and who treat them badly.
- Know that your child doesn't like saying these things any more than you like hearing them. Tics are not fun to experience.
- Potentially look for tic triggers if the tics are causing the individual distress. The book "Stop Your Tics By Learning What Triggers Them" By Sheila Rogers DeMare is highly informative. Tic triggers may include certain food sensitivities / allergens, environmental allergens such as pollen and mould, underlying infections, undetected Irlen Syndrome making light sensitivity exacerbate tics, sensory processing issues, etc. Keep an open mind and do your research on this. Finding tic triggers can take time. There are many success stories on the ACN Latitudes website.
- Seek advice from teenagers and adults who have similar experiences to your child. You learn more from lived experience than a textbook.
- Ensure that your child has role models who have the same condition as them. This can increase confidence. Role models may include people from support groups, and advocates.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional, this is NOT to be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a qualified physician, this is to be used for educational purposes only. For medical advice, please see a medical practitioner. I do NOT claim to treat, cure or mitigate any condition.