First of all, does he acknowledge that he has TS? Do his parents? If not, it's a slippery slope. I'd talk to his parents first about your thoughts and concerns so they can take the next step for their son. Now, in the school setting, arm yourself with some facts:
- Roughly 10% of people with TS have coprilalia, which is the blurting out of obscenities.
- Approximately 1 in 100 people in the world have Tourette's to some degree, most of whom have motor and/or vocal tics that are so faint that they, for the most part, go unnoticed and undiagnosed.
- There are two degrees of tics, the first being simple (a single tic) and complex (multiple different tics)
- The two different forms of tics are motor (affecting the muscles) and vocal (sounds and words)
- Roughly 20,000 people in the US have severe TS that is a combination of both motor and vocal tics
- The three forms of speech-related vocal tics are coprilalia (explained above), echolalia (repeating words or phrases previously spoken by others), and palilalia (repeating words or phrases from the TS patient themselves)
- Tics are an urge that has to be acted upon, like having to cough and trying to keep it in until it just explodes into a coughing fit. At times the tics will have some sort of warning sign like a thought or sensation, while other times they can spontaneously manifest themselves without warning.
- Tics can be suppressed for a time, but do not disappear. Instead, they build until they are released in an explosion of tics. Once released, the urge dissipates and may result in a stoppage of tics or it may revert back to smaller tics.
- Tics "wax and wane", which basically means they come and they go. Some people can go years without symptoms, while others have a more steady, constant manifestation.
- The duration of episodes can vary drastically from a single sudden tic to a constant barrage lasting days.
- Most people with TS have their symptoms disappear in later adolescence, but there are many adults with TS.
There's a lot more you can learn, such as muscle over-sensitivity, but this is definitely a good start.
Talk to the boy about his "actions". How does it feel to him physically and what are his emotions as he goes through this? By you understanding where he is coming from, you become a "spokesperson" for him and can try to relate his situation, of not being in control or being ridiculed, to others. Everyone feels inadequate or unaccepted at some point in their lives. Tap into that and use it to create empathy.
You have a perfect opportunity to make things more comfortable for this student. Take a step back, evaluate your approach, and be confident in your knowledge and acceptance of this boy's condition.