Understanding the Facts about ADHD Tics


A tic is the sudden, random, repetitive movement or involuntary vocalization that people make due to an environmental trigger or emotional distress. These sounds and movements are hard for the patient to control and they are more like a sneeze since they just happen abruptly and randomly.

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According to various observations, it is now emerging that people with ADHD are more likely to experience tics hence the phrase ADHD tics.  In fact, tics are a symptom of ADHD, especially in children. Kids with ADHD may squirm, fidget, or even make random noises for no apparent reason. These sounds and movements may occur throughout the day and they may increase when the patient is excited, anxious, or stressed.

What Are ADHD Tics Characteristics?

ADHD tics are the sudden repetitive movements and vocalizations that ADHD patients make involuntarily when stressed, anxious, or in response to environmental triggers. ADHD tics are similar to other tics caused by other conditions like Tourette Syndrome, OCD, and ASD. They are normally characterized by manifestations of multiple motor and vocal tics. 

What Causes ADHD Tics?

The main causes of ADHD tics remain unknown. Moreover, some of the perceived causes vary from patient to patient. Here are some of the risk factors that could play a role in the onset of ADHD tics.

  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Physical illness
  • Fatigue
  • Allergies
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Excitement
  • Traumatic events

Previously, scientists believed that tics were an ADHD medication side effect, but recent studies [1*] confirm that this is not the case. ADHD medication does not induce tics in patients.


How Do Tics Normally Appear?

Can ADHD Cause Tics?

ADHD in itself does not cause tics but patients with ADHD are more likely to experience tics. In any case, many people with ADHD have other conditions like Tourette Syndrome and ASD that cause tics. For this reason, many people assume that ADHD is the cause of these involuntary movements and sounds. 

Moreover, tics are a symptom of ADHD and other similar conditions and they do not last longer than one year. If your child is experiencing tics very often every day and the condition lasts longer than a year then you should take them for a medical check-up to rule out conditions like Tourette Syndrome.

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Can Untreated ADHD Cause Tics?

Untreated ADHD does not cause tics. Children with ADHD are more likely to have tics but most of them outgrow the condition with treatment or on their own depending on the severity of the disorder. 

The only concern is that if ADHD is left untreated, the condition can have lasting impairing consequences on the daily functioning of the patient. Untreated ADHD may impair one’s emotional regulation, impulse control, and social skills. In adults, untreated ADHD may affect concentration, marital satisfaction, and job performance.

ADHD Tics Gender

The Probability of ADHD tics in Males and Females

What Are the Symptoms of ADHD Tics?

The symptoms of ADHD tics vary from person to person and the severity of the condition. However, the most common symptoms include:

  • Eye blinking
  • Repeated head movements
  • Shrugging
  • Repeating words, sounds, or phrases
  • Facial expressions
  • Sniffing
  • Coughing
  • Constant grunting
  • Jerking
  • Eye rolling
  • Jumping
  • Grimacing
  • Touching objects or people

There is a strong link between ADHD and tics [2*] since people with ADHD are more likely to have conditions that cause tics. In addition, tics are among the symptoms of ADHD. People with ADHD tend to experience sudden random movements and they make loud involuntary sounds for no apparent reason. Patients may have episodes of repeated head twitching, eye blinking, coughing, and sniffing.

Despite the strong connection between ADHD and tics, ADHD does not cause tics. Apparently, tics can and go with age and many ADHD patients outgrow the condition later in life. If the condition does not subside with time, then your doctor might consider prescribing non-stimulant medications for ADHD to help manage the condition. Some common non-stimulants prescribed for ADHD tics are clonidine and guanfacine.

Stimulant medications may or may not reduce the symptoms of uncontrolled tics. Taking stimulants may cause tics to appear or become worse in some patients while it may help tic disorders in other patients.

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How Common Are Tic Disorders?

Tic disorders normally occur in about 20% of children with ADHD and about 50% of adults with ADHD have chronic tics. According to research, one in five kids aged 6-17 years is likely to develop a tic disorder regardless of whether or not they have ADHD. Given that tic disorders are genetic, children with tic disorders come from families where one or two members have the condition.

What You Can Do About ADHD and Tics?

While some tic disorders go away on their own, some patients may require additional treatment to manage the condition. Talking to a healthcare professional can help determine the right treatment for you. Some of the most recommended treatment methods for ADHD tics include:

  • Behavioral therapy – habit reversal therapy and exposure-response prevention
  • Non-stimulant medications

Even though ADHD tics are involuntary and the patient does not have control over the disorder, they are easily manageable as long as you seek treatment from the right professionals. EzCare Medical Clinic is here to help you find the right treatment for ADHD tics. We have a team of competent, approachable, and compassionate professionals who are ready to attend to your needs.


+2 sources
  1. Pharmacological treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children with comorbid tic disorders. (2018)
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  2. ADHD and Tics or Tourette Syndrome
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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.