How Should I Prepare for Adult Life with Tourette’s?

Tourette's Syndrome (TS) is incurable, but the symptoms can be manageable with treatment. Learn what to expect in the long term, including government assistance options, co-existing conditions, and where to find support.

By Ability Central

15 December, 2023

An older white woman struggles to hold a cup of coffee while her daughter reaches out to help

About 86% of people with Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) have also been diagnosed with at least one additional mental health, behavioral, or developmental condition. Between tics and co-existing conditions, life with Tourette’s requires significant planning. This article will address what you need to know about the long-term planning needs for TS, including: 

  • Is Tourette’s considered a disability in the United States? 
  • What health issues often co-exist with Tourette’s? 
  • Do Tourette's tics ever go away? 
  • Is there a way to control a tic? 
  • What challenges can a person with Tourette’s expect as they get older? 
  • What support groups are available? 
  • Where can I get more information? 


Is Tourette’s considered a disability in the United States? 

The United States Department of Justice considers Tourette's a qualifying disability. That means the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers TS. The ADA protects people’s rights to employment, public transportation, and public accommodations. 


In addition, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers Tourette's a disability. You may qualify for disability insurance if you meet certain qualifications, like tics interfering with daily life to the point that you cannot work for 12 months. Each SSA case is different, however, so contact a local Social Security disability lawyer to see if you qualify. 


What health issues often co-exist with Tourette’s? 

People with Tourette’s often have other co-existing conditions that can complicate daily life in addition to disruptive tics.  


Of those with TS, 


Do Tourette's tics ever go away? 

Tics typically begin around six years old and peak between ages 10 and 12. Anxiety, stress, fatigue, and excitement can all worsen tics. 


People with Tourette’s do not always carry the tics throughout their lives. In fact, 

  • About 30% of children with tic disorders stop exhibiting tics in adolescence or early adulthood.  
  • Another 30% take their tics into adulthood.  
  • About ⅓ have tics that worsen during adulthood, but most TS tics are manageable. Only 2% to 5% of those whose tics worsen need significant support in life. 


Is there a way to control a tic? 

The longer a person has a tic, the more likely they are to notice the unusual or uncomfortable sensations before the onset of a tic. These sensations grow in intensity until the tic is released. These may include: 

  • a burning feeling in the eyes that forces blinking 
  • increasing muscle tension that requires stretching or twitching 
  • a dry throat that needs to be cleared 
  • itching in a limb or joint that requires movement 


Tics, by nature, are uncontrolled, but some people with TS have ways to “hold off” a tic until either the urge goes away or they can get to a safe space and “release” the tic. With time and practice, many people with tic disorders learn ways of managing their tics. If someone with Tourette‘s notices a recurring tic, they can work with their healthcare provider for actionable steps to lessen the impact of the tic in the short term.  


Many tics change or go away over time, sometimes to be replaced by a different tic. Relaxation methods, breathing exercises, and other coping skills learned in therapy can help with managing recurring tics—or, with managing the mental health symptoms a person might develop in response to their tics. 


What challenges can a person with Tourette’s expect as they get older? 

If a person carries Tourette’s into their retirement years, new challenges may begin, including: 

  • Long-term side-effects of some medications that treat TS. Some people may experience low blood sugar, weight gain, and Type II diabetes.  
  • Social isolation. Some people with TS have difficulty making friends or communicating with others. Support groups bring together people with similar lived experiences. Sharing stories and making connections in a safe space can help older people with TS build a crucial support network.
  • Complications in financial and legal matters. Certified financial specialists and patient advocates can help with necessary paperwork, decision-making, and estate management to take some stress out of the retirement years. 


To get a head start on planning for a future with TS, try Ability Central’s Service Locator. This excellent resource tool includes a database of nonprofits specializing in care and support for people with tic disorders. The Service Locator covers everything from medical services and supplies to resources about legal support and retirement homes. 


What support groups are available? 

A tic disorder like Tourette’s can feel extremely isolating. People with TS are often unfairly discriminated against, and it can be exhausting to constantly explain one’s condition repeatedly. A support group or a safe space to share lived experiences can be an excellent outlet for people who have Tourette’s. 


University of Florida (UF) Health says support groups serve as a bridge between medical treatment and emotional support. Support groups are often an outlet for humor, commiseration, and finding camaraderie with people who “get it.”  Many organizations in our database provide support group resources:  


Where can I get more information about Tourette’s? 

Ability Central offers the following resources to help you understand a TS diagnosis. 

Article Type: