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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 10, 2013) – Children with Tourette syndrome or "tic" disorders have new hope of recovery through the pediatric comprehensive behavioral intervention program for tic disorders (CBIT), an innovative behavioral-based, drug-free approach now offered at Children's of Alabama.

Occupational therapist Jan Rowe, Dr.OT, MPH, OTR/L, FAOTA, brought the program to Children's recently from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB.) The program is offered in partnership with Pediatric Neurology through Children's occupational therapy department and is comprised of psycho-education about tics, habit reversal and relaxation training, and an evaluation of how the environment and social situations influence the severity of the child's tics.

An involuntary and repetitive movement or vocal sound that usually involves the face and shoulders is commonly called a "tic." Tic disorder and Tourette syndrome include twitching, sniffing, excessive blinking, mouth movements and repeating sounds, words or phrases. Tics typically begin around age 6 and peak between 9 and 11 years. Previously the only treatment for tics was medication, which typically had poor results and bad side effects. CBIT manages tics through behavioral strategies.

Treatment typically consists of eight 60- to 90-minute sessions that increase the child's awareness of his/her tics, determine the order in which the child's tics will receive intervention, ascertain the impact of the tics on the child's daily life and develop a reward system to motivate the child to change behavior.

Rowe is the first occupational therapist in the nation to coordinate a CBIT. Patients travel from all over the U.S. to participate in the Children's program due to the limited availability of treatment elsewhere. To make the treatment protocol more widely available, Rowe is training other occupational therapists across the country who work with children with Tourette syndrome or tic disorders. She and Dr. Leon Dure, division director of Pediatric Neurology, were awarded a national Tourette Syndrome Association grant with Cornell Medical School in New York to develop the first CBIT manual for occupational therapists.

Children's of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children since 1911, offering inpatient and outpatient services throughout central Alabama. Last year, families made more than 670,000 outpatient and nearly 14,000 inpatient visits to Children's from every county in Alabama and from 41 other states and four foreign countries. With more than 2 million square feet, Children's is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. and has been ranked among the top children's hospital programs in the country for the past three years by US News & World Report. More information about the CBIT program is available online at