Sign language tics in a prelingually deaf man

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Abstract

Gilles de la Tourette syndrome is characterized by vocal and motor tics starting in childhood. Vocal tics may be either noises or words, and the vocal language tics may consist of obscenities (coprolalia) and repetitions of speech that has been heard (echolalia). We describe a prelingually deaf man who has the full array of tics seen in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, but in whom vocal language tics are replaced by equivalent sign language tics. This is, to our knowledge, the first report of sign language tics in a person with prelingual deafness. The implications of this phenomenon for the separation between language and ideas in tics and the equivalence of sign language to spoken language is discussed.

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