Coprolalia can be a particularly distressing symptom and a lifelong struggle for an individual with Tourette Syndrome. Stigmatization, shame and isolation must be reduced by the efforts of the individual, their families, their community and society. Strategies to manage coprolalia will target improving the acceptance and understanding of this difficult symptom which will in turn reduce the frequency and intensity of it’s expression.
Understanding the nature of coprolalia is essential to understanding strategies for the management of coprolalia.
Be aware that coprolalia, a symptom of a neurological disorder, will not go away. If the symptom is not being expressed, the individual is either effectively managing or suppressing it’s expression. Suppression is NOT a desired response. Suppression requires the individual to constantly focus on the symptom reinforcing coprolalia and exhausting the person’s mental capacity to do anything other than suppress. Obsession with suppression may lead to a constant internal struggle. Effective management will serve to increase everyone’s understanding about coprolalia, reduce stress and prevent hyper focussing on the symptoms. In a sense, just by changing how we think about and react to coprolalia we can reduce it’s incidence and negative impact.
In order for the individual with coprolalia to be accepted, education about coprolalia must happen. Education is essential to the individual and their families as well as all others who will, or should, become the support network essential for healthy living. This will include the individual’s school, their peers, their medical professionals, clubs they are involved with, their community and society in general.
There are numerous internet sources aimed at the promotion of awareness and understanding of Tourette Syndrome all of which can be useful sources for information and support. Coprolalia is a rare symptom of Tourette Syndrome and there are few comprehensive sources for information specific to this symptom. Many sources about Tourette Syndrome define coprolalia generally but few offer more than a definition. We recommend Neurologically Gifted’s article, Coprolalia Part 1: The Nature of Coprolalia, which is a comprehensive look at what coprolalia is and how it may manifest. This article provides a deeper understanding of coprolalia, how it may be expressed and how it feels for the individual. We also recommend using other sources of information about Tourette Syndrome, particularly explanations about tics and the nature of tics, to further understand coprolalia. Coprolalia, however complex, is a vocal tic. If one understands how tics work they can understand how coprolalia works. Use your knowledge of tics and coprolalia to share information with the key people in your own or your child’s lives.
If your child has Tourette Syndrome educate them also and use them as source for information. They are experts about how their brain works but will need adult coaching to gain insight into their symptoms. Teach them the language needed to explain their symptoms to others. Include them when you are speaking to others about their disorder. Advocate for your child, with your child present whenever possible, and teach them how to advocate for themselves. The gift of self advocacy will provide them with security and strength and serve them throughout their lives. Practice at home having your child educate others about Tourette Syndrome and coprolalia to improve confidence and self acceptance.
Always consider that not everyone you or your child meets will understand or care to understand about your own or your child’s symptoms. Be aware and let your child know about this possibility. I often tell my child that others may never understand him or care that he can not control his symptoms. They may “just never get it”. I let him know that we have done our part by sharing information with them and that it is their choice to make an effort to understand or not. I let him know that we can feel good and satisfied by our efforts knowing we have done what we can do and move forward in a positive way.