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Tourette Syndrome

Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors

Obsessions consist of repetitive unwanted or bothersome thoughts. Compulsive and ritualistic behaviors are when the person feels that something must be done over and over and/or in a certain way. Research shows 50-60% of persons with Tourette Syndrome also have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


Aggressive thoughts, images, impulses Concern about dirt or germs
Concern with colors of special significance
Focusing on specific numbers
Mental coprolalia (sexual thoughts, images, impulses)
Need for symmetry, exactness, cleanliness, order
Need to experience sensations (skin cut or burned)
Need to have feeling of JUST RIGHT
Need to know or remember things
Overfocusing on minute details
Overfocusing on moral issues (right/wrong, fairness)
Overfocusing on one idea or action
Preoccupation with knives, scissors, blood
Thinking about food and eating
Thinking about forbidden behaviors
Thinking about hoarding or collecting
Worrying about harming self or others
Worrying that something terrible might happen (fire, death)

Behavioral Concerns

Defiant behavior
Mood changes
Oppositional behavior
Poor impulse control
Quick temper


Adjusting clothes to feel just right (socks, sleeves)
Biting nails
Checking and rechecking (doors, locks, windows, the stove)
Constantly fiddling with objects or clothes
Coprolalia (obscenities or other socially unacceptable phrases) Copropraxia (obscene gestures)
Counting objects over and over again
Counting or grouping objects
Cracking knuckles
Cutting or burning skin
Echolalia (repeating others' words)
Echopraxia (mimicking others)
Erasing repeatedly
Evening things up (touching with one hand then the other)
Excessive handwashing, bathing, cleaning
Excessively ordering and arranging objects
Licking or biting others
Need to finish verbalizations if interrupted
Need to say or do what told not to say or do
Need to start over if interrupted
Palilalia (repeating one's own words)
Persevering on a task (can't "let go")
Picking skin/sores
Playing video games over and over in the mind
Repeatedly asking same question
Repeating actions (in/out the door, up/down from chair)
Repeating sounds, words, numbers, music to oneself
Responding unnecessarily to verbalizations
Sexually touching others
Sexually touching self
Sniffing or smelling hands or objects
Sucking thumb
Touching objects an exact number of times
Touching objects, others, self, wounds
Unable to change to new task or activity
Writing and rewriting until "perfect"

This page based on a handout designed by Becky Ottinger, Education Consultant for the Kansas City Chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Association.