Social Concerns Related to Tourette Syndrome

Occasionally children with Tourette Syndrome can demonstrate difficulties with peer and adult social relationships. Having appropriate social skills is an important part of development, peer relations and school success. Many times, children with poor social skills can be extremely bright, but are limited in school because of their delayed social skills. Recognizing the signs and symptoms are an important part of establishing a treatment and strategy plan to manage those aversive behaviors.

Possible signs of impaired social skills with Tourette Syndrome are:

  • Difficulty with initiating peer engagement and making friends
  • Difficulties with using impulse control in social situations such as running away in public or grabbing items off of the shelf at a store
  • Difficulties with maintaining eye contact and use of appropriate body language when engaging in conversations
  • Difficulties with transitions of tasks (both preferred and non-preferred tasks)
  • Difficulties with turn taking and game playing with peers
  • Difficulty with emotional control in social situations such as a meltdown in public places or crying easily at school
  • Difficulty with conflict management and inflexibility to compromise
  • May appear to play too rough with peers
  • May use inappropriate stories, words (not related to coprolalia) or jokes when engaging in conversations

Common treatment methods to improve social functioning:

  • Follow up with an Occupational Therapist or a Speech Therapist for social skills or pragmatic language skill training. Social skills groups may be available in your community
  • Follow up with your child’s teacher or school to explore social skills training in the school system
  • Modify the IEP/504 plan to include strategies such as a peer mentor, behavioral modifications prior to difficult social situations and preferential seating in the classroom
  • Introduce social stories. Social stories are short stories with visuals that describe age appropriate social skills and behaviors. Social stories have been shown as an effective tool to train for appropriate social skills. These stories are written in an easy, child friendly language that makes it enjoyable for a kid to participate in. Social stories are utilized to teach appropriate behaviors in anticipation to a daily or special event. Explore the many helpful resources such as books, websites and how to write your own social story for your particular situation
  • Role Play social situations. Practice with family and other peers who your child is comfortable with. Practice in prepared and predetermined situations can help with transition to the “real world” and real time social events
  • Get involved in Tourette Syndrome support groups. Get your child involved with like-minded peers

Learn more about the TAA and social skills training and education.

Learn more about the UF Center of Excellence.


1)National Association of School Psychologists (2002). Social Skills: Promoting Positive Behavior, Academic Success and School Safety. Retrieved from

2) Malley, P. (Speaker). (2014). [PDF document]. 2014 TSA National Conference Video Presentation. Helping Your Child Develop Social Skills.

About the Author


Heather Simpson, OTR/L

Heather Simpson graduated with a B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science with a minor in Early Education from the University of Florida in 2007. Following…

Read all articles by Heather Simpson, OTR/L