About Caleb Davidson

Tourette Syndrome. A Neurological Disorder that causes people to tick and make noises. Hi, I'm Caleb Davidson, and I have Tourette's, I'm hear to tell you more about it.

7 Things to Help Reduce Tics!

Editor’s note: We welcome blogger AndreaF back to TSParentsOnline with a follow-up to her popular post from a few years ago. What are your experiences with these methods to reduce tics? We’d love to hear from you.

7-tipsBefore my book came out I was blogging pretty regularly for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome. One of the posts that garnered 61 comments was on Five Things that Can Help With Tics.

A few years later, and with more research, I have decided to update the list a bit for new parents who keep writing me with the same question.

Question: How do I fix the tics?

Answer: There is no one-size-fits all answer. Every child is different.

What Can You Do If You’re Freaking Out About Tics?

I’m no doctor, but after 10 years at this I can passionately state that all kids tic for a variety of reasons. I, personally, didn’t feel medication was the answer right off the bat for my son. It still isn’t. If it got severe enough, of course I would consider it, but so far it has not.

Here’s what I tell all parents who write me with concerns over their ticking kids. I tell them to ask a few important questions – the same ones I asked myself.

Questions to Ask if Your Child is Ticking

  • Could there be vitamin deficiencies happening?
  • What kind of environmental stressors could be worked on? (Less tension at home, less electronics?, etc.)
  • How much sleep is your child getting?
  • What kind of exercise is your child getting?
  • What does your child’s diet consist of?

It’s Up To You!

None of these questions are meant to either shame or suggest there are simple answers for complicated tic issues. Again, each child is different. My suggestion is to go to a naturopath and have your child evaluated for his/her individual condition. If you are low on funds (which I was) you can start with the basics and see if this helps. It helped in our case and I hope it helps in yours!

supplements

5 Things to Help With Tics

  1. Magnesium: I gave my son 500 mg of magnesium a day, and it really helped with his eye rolls and vocals. For some little kids this might be too much, but I’ve been told the worst thing excess magnesium can do is cause diarrhea. Now my son takes a calcium/magnesium supplement as the magnesium is best absorbed with calcium. The ratio is double the calcium to the magnesium.
  2. Gluten Free: It was a pain, but it helped, and continues to help enormously. He can concentrate more and can fall asleep quickly. When he was not gluten free, it would take hours for him to settle down. He is still a high energy kid, but much less so now.
  3. Dairy Free: Ditto the gluten. It was a pain, but we’ve found many ways to supplement his calcium through rice milk, vegetables and fruit.
  4. Sleep: 10 hours of sleep a night is crucial and a huge tic reducer.
  5. No artificial flavors or preservatives: My son is very sensitive to chemicals. They can set tics off like bees around a honey pot. Not worth the sting of excess tics except on special occasions.

2 Other Supplements * Talk to you Naturopath first * 

6. NAC  – Standing for N-Acetylcysteine, this is an amino acid that can be purchased at any vitamin store. This natural supplement acts as an antioxidant and glutamate modulating agent.

According to this webinar, featuring Dr. Mark Mintz, “They (a study) found the N-acetyl cysteine decreased symptoms of trichotillomania (hair pulling) compared to placebo. It makes theoretical sense as NAC can modulate dopamine. So, there are reports that NAC can improve mood disorders as well (such as obsessive compulsive disorder). There needs to be more research and reports to have a better handle on the effects of NAC in Tourette, but it appears to show some promise.”

7. Taurine – I talk about Taurine here. My son is currently on 500 MG but I think he could use 1000. That said, I will talk to my naturopath first!

What have been your experiences with tics? Did any of you find it made a difference for your children? What about in some of your cases where tics were more severe? Would love to hear!

Until next time, may God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

ADHD – Another Day Having Discussions

I used to read that the “co-morbid” conditions of T.S. were far more frustrating than the tics themselves.

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As defined, co-morbid means the annoying other conditions that make you want to poke your eyes out with ice picks the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient. For kids with Tourettes, this could be ADHD, OCD, Autism, ADD and insane awesomeness.

Stink deals with the last two on the list, and let me tell you, it’s been a crazy year. If I was able to guide him through the chaos, drama and joy that accompanies kinder through sixth grade, let’s just say that seventh grade has proven to be the final leak in a boat that was destined to sink without a major overhaul in the floorboard.

Having a kid with T.S. and ADD, while being a working parent with a little bit of ADHD herself (I know… biiiig shock) is kind of like fixing a boat’s floor while still on the water. It can be done, but the progress is slow (Not to mention tiring. How many buckets of water can you scoop and throw over the side while steering the ship and feeding the crew?)

The best bet to fixing that leak is to get that boat out of the ocean all together. Take a break from the swells and breathe while on dry docks. Get a professional boat repair man. Invest in his advice, buy the supplies to keep it fresh and clean once it’s back on the water, and absolutely join a hole-in-the-boat support group. After all, there’s a decent chance that at some point that hole in the boat will come back. You’ll want another mama to cruise by in her motorboat when this happens.  You’ll want that lifeline and the invitation to a cup of coffee in her well stocked cabin to catch your breath until your own boat works again.

Since life is not apparently perfect, I’m kind of stuck in the middle between shore and open water. I’ve been organizing my own life, to help organize Stink’s, and we’ve made progress. I am avoiding a lot of frustration by accepting life on life’s terms. I am not focusing on what he’s behind on in school. (Um, everything.) Instead, I’m focusing on helping him get caught up with the goal that he’ll be doing this himself at some point.

This means coming home each day after school and doing his work in the same spot. It means having him diligently utilize his planner so that he’s not relying on his own brain to remember every little detail of his “overwhelming” (his words) seventh grade schedule.

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The challenge with using a planner is that you have to remember to take your planner home. And then, here’s the real rub: you have to find it in the first place. And when that task seems too monumental, you just throw yourself on the floor and scream like a Carolina fan reach out to an educator who knows you’re doing your doing your best to help your kid.

Here’s an email exchange I had yesterday with one of his educators, minus the teacher’s name because, you know, these teachers have nothing better to do than stalk their ADD student’s mom’s blog.

Hi Teacher Fabulous-

The last piece of my kid’s organization puzzle is his missing planner. He is out sick today so when he’s back tomorrow I will have him check his locker. If it’s not there, is there an extra he can have? If not, I will buy one and he will be held accountable.
If there is any homework you need him to do today, please feel free to let me know. 
Thanks!
Andrea

 **
  
Hi Andrea,
I don’t have any extra planners.  I gave my last one away a few weeks ago.
We are practicing percents in a new packet today.  Do you want to pick it up later?  Let me know.
Thanks,
Teacher Fabulous
** 
 
Hi again –  
 
Yes, I will pick it up today after school if that works for you? If not, you can leave it in the office. Whatever is best. 

Can I just pick up a planner at an educational store?
THIS KID. He better get with the program or I’m returning him. I have books to write.
Andrea
**
Andrea – 
I have to supervise out front after school.  I’ll do my best to remember to bring it out there with me so you can get it then.  

I would make your own life easy and just go to Target or Walmart for a planner.  
There’s a thirty day return policy…..sorry, you can’t return him!  🙂
Teacher Fabulous
*** 
 
Oh for f***s sake. 

Until next time, May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

Happily Ticked off

Mothers Tell Stories…

here-comes-the-domAnd so here’s mine. It seems as if the moment my kid hit 13 the teens hit full force. The defiance, the arguing, the overall surliness.

And, well, if I’m being honest, I thought it was going to be one of those deals where my kid, while still totally socially appropriate, would still find me amazing and cool and, despite being busy with friends and outings and Boy Scouts, would want to jump in the car the moment I say, “Hey, who wants to the grocery store and crash the free sample table!”

Every single little dream there? Lost. We’re not talking by a little. We’re talking epic defeat. For one thing, my kid is far from winning any social awards at school. Oh, he has a bunch of friends, but they’re kind of like him… a bit on the wacky side… a little bit clueless on the when girls like them side. (Yes, Stink, if she remembered to call you on your birthday, buy you a gift, buy you a Christmas gift and ask you to teen night, there just might be some interest.) Boy Scouts He doesn’t do uniforms.

Stink and his friends are like oversized male children with skinny legs, crazy fros and a scent that can only be described as a cross between testosterone and Axe.

The difference between him and his other friends, however, is that I can’t make out their duck quacks from across a crowded parking lot. When they roll their eyes, I know it’s because they are being sassy and not because Mr. Flappy Lid has made his appearance again. When his buddies nod, it’s to mean “yes” or “no”, and not the head jerk prodigal son making his triumphant return. (No, I’m not having a banquet for these returning relatives. But if I did, you could bet it would be gluten and dairy free.)

Stink’s tics – the loud ones – are back. And this time, they are stronger than before. (Gosh darnit, Taurine, you let me down again. You’re like that bad boyfriend. Just when I think I can trust you, you leave my sorry butt in a heap of despair!)

Here’s the thing, though: my kid, like his eyes, just roll. He doesn’t see them as a problem. They don’t make him different or geeky or less than. It’s simply something he does, not who he is.

In my brain, this should be enough. But in my heart, I still die a little bit. As a mother of a kid with this wonky disability, I fight so many demons:

  • Do I not love him enough for who he is – including his noises?
  • Do I not love him enough because I’m not making him take meds?
  • If I am not choosing to not put him on medication, then am I ruining his life with my occasional “Keep it down, kid. PLEASE!” (Oh yeah, Saturday’s “G-DAMNIT, STINK, QUIET DOWN FOR ONE SECOND!” was epic. He literally curled into the door frame of the car and didn’t talk to me for ten minutes. He also didn’t tic. And that made it worse. I won! For being a butt wipe! Hooray for me! Send the Mommy Shaming Award my way, FedEx!)
  • And what about his sister? I have spent soooo much extra time with her the past few years – I’ve wanted to… it’s not a challenge – but it’s a balancing act to say the least.

I had a good cry last night. I mean, a good one.

Me: Stink, I’m so sorry. I just suck sometimes. I feel so bad for yelling at you about that noise.

Stink: Mom, it’s okay. (Quack quack) I forgave you already! I don’t keep resentments!

Me: I know, but I feel awful. I just love you so much. I don’t want to ruin you.

Stink: Impossible!

Me: Well, thank you. And hey – I promise – I am not going to ask you to stop ticking again.

Stink: Also impossible! (He’s right. Now I’m really sobbing.) It’s okay to cry, Mom. You got to let it out. (He farts.) Ahhh… it just feels better to release, you know?

I swear, the noises from that kid never stops. But his biggest ticker is his heart. I’m grateful.

And so, once again, I am saying it here: I am determined to not get so wound up on tics. But I can’t do it on my own. I just can’t.

Dear God, get in the car and hang with me. Don’t drive like that Jesus Take the Wheel Song. That would creepy to see a long haired dude in a tunic driving my stinky SUV. But be with me. I need the support. Andrea. PS: I hope you can handle Cheeto crumbs and Country Music. 

Yup, when I give it to God, there’s just so much more perspective.

This morning, after a little praying, it dawned on me that I might not ever accept this disorder. I can, however, accept that it’s sometimes just hard. The reality of what is, not what I want it to be, was not always my first choice toward serenity, but it sure as hell makes for a more a more peaceful reality. I can do something with reality. I can fill bad days with joy. I can walk away from yelling at my kid and stroll in the sunshine instead. I can write. I can pray. I can help another mom who is suffering. (Write me, moms! HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com).

When God’s at the center of my problem, not my misery, I can relax. I can remember that it’s not my job to make my son disability-free. It’s my job to love him. And boy, do I.

Final Thoughts

Tonight I took a break. It had been a long day of working and cooking and kid pick-upping and homeworking. Instead of sitting at home counting tics doing more Ebay listings, I went with my daughter to a YMCA banquet. She was one of 3 asked to perform for a fund raising event.

Playing Wendy in an upcoming Peter Pan show, she put on her yellow Mary Janes with white ankle socks. She stood straight, hair in bun, and spoke in a sweet British accent, “She’s the person who kisses you goodnight…” and then she sang… “your mother and mine… your mother and mine.”

She went on to sing, “Mothers tell stories… they often do… what you can’t do… mothers can do.”

Raising my kid with Tourettes isn’t unlike my daughter getting up on stage, singing in front of hundreds. I get to hide my fear with my poker face. I get to get dressed every morning (the bun is optional) and I get to sing my heart out because the lights shining on me. And maybe, at the end of the day, my son will remember his mother who loved him enough to write a book, to pen a blog, and hopefully help a few others out there not feel so alone.

“Mothers tell stories, they often do, what you can’t do, mothers can do.”

Moms, you can do it. You can. And worse case, if your day is hard, consider climbing into bed with your family – tics and all. You’ve got one childhood to tell a good story. (Pssst: You are an amazing hero in this story. Give it a good ending!)

my-familyThis post dedicated to Denise, who always seems to show up when I need it most. I am grateful. 

Until next time, May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

Tip #3 to Reduce Tics: Limit Artificial Flavors

rainbow-of-risksGreetings from TicVille:

Yes, despite my big hopes that Taurine was the magic elixir that was going to eliminate all tics, twitches and noise, they are back. Turns out… crazy as this is going to sound…. that MY KID HAS TOURETTE SYNDROME. Apparently there is not a one-size-fits-all cure.

That said, the tics are not as bad as they have been in the past, leading me to believe that the Taurine and Magnesium protocol is helping. As soon as money permits we’ll go back to our favorite  nutritionist to get the rest of the testing done.

  • Does he he need to go on GAPS due to a leaky gut?
  • Does he need to eliminate dairy?
  • Does he need detox from some heavy metals left over from his vaccinations years ago?

Perhaps all of it. The old Andrea would want to do that now! Now! Now! The new Andrea… the one who is trying to pause before freaking out… is going to take it one day at a time. That seems to make life more tolerable – not just for me, but for everyone in my family.

Here’s the deal, folk. My kid is already 13. I can spend the rest of his remaining childhood freaking out over this crazy syndrome – about everything I could or could not be doing – or I can attempt to do the best I can and just love the hell out of him. I’m choosing the second.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep him as healthy as possible which leads to Tip #3 on my tic reduction list: Limiting Food Dye.

Below are a few excerpts from this post that talks talks about why it’s been banned in Europe.

“In 2008, a ruling was passed banning the use of the specific food colors in the UK [7]. This followed allegations that the artificial food colors used have promoted health problems in children [8]. Consequently, the UK Food Standards Agency has called for the ban on the use of six foods coloring in the preparation of ingestible products such as foods and drinks since they have been associated with promoting hyperactivity in children .”

And then there’s this:

“In the United States, there have been legal battles over the use of synthetic banned food dyes by Kraft Foods Group Inc. by two mothers. The two women wanted Kraft to adopt safer natural food coloring in the making of food products as practiced in many other countries such as the UK but declined to adopt the use of the natural food dyes.”

Does it Really Make a Difference?

This post talks about how the verdict is still out on food dye. It says that some kids aren’t affected by it at all, while others are highly allergic. My kid is probably somewhere in between. My goal is to keep him eating as clean as possible and then just hope for the best.

2016 – Making Good Choices for Mama!

I don’t 100% know if food dye makes a difference, but I know what does: taking care of me. That’s the goal this year. Why? Because if I don’t, who will?

As I head into 2016, I’m once again looking at my different work options. My husband is in Year 3 of his own business, and while it’s doing okay, we need the income. Ideally I’d do something that really uses my skills, like writing musicals about Tourettes and going on tour as the spokesperson for Yuban! But until that ideal job comes along, I have my freelance writing clients and my Ebay biz. I will take a steady approach to applying and not get crazy… like this morning… when after ONE HOUR of applying for an online job I was booted off the system. Oh, yeah, that was fun. I’m  not 100% sure what “taking it easy” with this job hunt will mean, but I do know this: God has a plan.

Being a Ball of Nerves Doesn’t Work – Who Knew?

It seems to me that when I get into self-will I get myself into a load of trouble. I’ve decided this year that rather than go nuts trying to make something happen come hell or high water (which involves lots of arguing, stress and occasionally screaming at my kids that “Your room looks like a Salvation Army with a bad case of the runs!” which… well… does not a peaceful bedtime make) I’ll just do a little bit each day.

And then I’ll rest.

Like today, when I stopped for an hour to have a cup of coffee with Marta, the 67 year old neighbor, who put in her teeth for the occasion and told me all about her son in Mexico who runs his own I.T. business and is sending his ma-mah on a $3000 tour of her home country in the Spring.

Do I want the tics to go away? Yes. But more important than that, I want to be sure I don’t miss out on the joy of my son’s beautiful laugh.

Do I want to make more money so my kids don’t have teeth resembling Tom Sawyer’s garden gate? Absolutely. But until that happens, there’s a Costco run in a few weeks with my adopted Jewish Bubba, Ginnie.

Do I want my kids to clean their room? Yes. But until they get their own space (which they’ll have in a few weeks thanks to a big rearrange) I’m just going to let the room go. Why? Because in the big scheme of life, it’s not important. But other things are.

gegegThere’s cake to be baked with my daughter.

efefe

There’s a warm fire to be had this evening where my son, tics and all, will read a chapter to me of The Hunger Games. (I’ll take it before he realizes just how uncool his mother really is.) There will, of course, be food! (Everything is better with Mexican food. Thank you, Fred – the kid’s janitor at public school – who makes a tamale like nobody’s business.)

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And there’s this blog to write.

In the hustle and bustle of making a buck, I’ve missed my personal writing. It’s what makes my soul happy. If you’ll check in, I’ll write.

Until next time, May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

Happily Ticked off

Tip #2 to Limit Tics: Exercise

1I won’t lie. My kid like to exercise as much as the Kardashian girls like to wear clothing. But never the less, it’s needed. I have no grand illusion that exercise is going to rid my kid of any particular vocal or physical tic, but it absolutely makes a difference in his mental energy.

And mine.

For the past nine months he’s taken a tennis class at the local park. It’s once a week only but there’s nothing more hilarious than watching a bunch of tween nerdy boys running around the court banging balls at each others’heads. I mean… it’s excellent exercise and great at controlling Dopamine production!

Every day but Fridays we walk to school. It’s as much about talking as it is about the walking. Given he’s now 13 (oy, can’t believe it) I’ll take all the bonding time I can get.

A few weeks ago, after our local city holiday parade, my daughter stayed with my husband to do some cleanup for the Kiwanis club. My son and I walked the whole three miles home. Despite some pretty steady vocal tics on his part, it was hard for me to worry about it or be frustrated. The sights of the floats, the sounds of Christmas music blaring through the radios of the viewers, the many dogs and babies waddling through the crowd… it made me happy to be alive.

Him: “Mom, I really want a new Nintendo DS for Christmas.”

Me: “Why? You already have a computer and a tablet.”

Him: “You already have a bunch of coffee cups, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy another one, right?”

Me: “Yes, but my hobby is a lot less expensive than yours.”

Him: “True, dat. But come on, Mom, don’t you ever want something just because it’s awesome and fun and you can’t wait to get your hands around it?”

Me: I wanted to shout, “Yes, it’s called you! Stop growing so fast!” Instead I went with, “Yeah. Yeah I have.”

And then he slipped his hand in mine. For the next mile we walked side by side, our fingers entwined. With his head at my shoulder, I can already tell he’ll surpass me by summer. I took it in… every step… and thanked God for him. For the walks. For everything.

And right there I made a commitment to have joy and gratitude in 2016 no matter what. So far, I haven’t missed a day of good old fashioned positive thinking. That’s exercise I could get used to.

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PS: And as life would have it – the moment I decided to stop living in my comfort zone (fear and worry) the tics went away. The reason? Jesus appeared in my morning Yuban and blessed me with the Holy Spirit of Tourette Syndrome TAURINE. More later. (Tics down from even last post!)

Until next time, May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

Tip #1 to Limit Tics: Reduce Electronics

boy

In this article, I wrote a list of 20 things I’m doing to manage tics. I broke the list down into simple changes/habits vs. more technical. Because it’s Christmas and I have so much to do that pretty sure I’ll be ticking myself, I am starting with the easy changes. I’d love your opinion, too!

# Tip to Limiting Tics: Less Screen Time/Video Games

This article by Psychology Today suggests a screen fast of up to 3 weeks to calm the tics down. “Electronic screen media—since video games and computer use increases dopamineand tics are dopamine-related, it’s understandable that electronic media worsens tics.  For bothersome tics, I recommend a three week “electronic fast”(link is external) to normalize brain chemistry and improve sleep (restful sleep improves tics in and of itself).”

Having gone back and forth with this for over 8 years (see this post from 2011 when I attributed the Nintendo DS to devil’s dung) I have a few things to say about an electronic fast.

  1. It works.
  2. But is it worth it?

Yes, there are many moms (such as this post from ACN shows) that have seen improvement with their kids’ tics by eliminating screen time altogether, but this can be tricky if you have a child like mine. Sometimes the pressure and sadness over not being able to do what he loves make my kid tic more.

Many of my super holistic friends, as well as Stink’s naturopath, are of the ilk that just because a kid likes something doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them. For them it’s a no-brainer (no pun intended on the messing up one’s brain-er part) that if something is bad for you, it must go.

I choose, for example, not to drink wine at all because 3 glasses of it makes me nutty. The thing with video games, for this mama anyway, is that I don’t find the usage – in moderation – to be the same thing as drinking and driving over squirrels with my kids in the back seat of the SUV (playing video games).

I’ve decided, after battling the video game demon for 8  years, that a few tics in exchange for moderate video game use is okay. It’s not an all or nothing thing for us. Combined with many other healthy alternatives, I’m okay with it. For my kid, I let him play as long as there are adequate boundaries around it.

Here’s how I handle the video game usage

  • None Monday – Thursday
  • 2 hours/day Friday/Saturday/Sunday
  • Exercise is a must – at least 30 minutes Friday/Saturday/Sunday
  • Continue with healthy diet (Zero gluten, dairy to be removed in January)
  • Adequate sleep
  • More to come when I go through the list

Video Games – The Great Motivator

My kid likes video gaming enough that I use it as a motivator to get stuff done. “Hey, Stink, want an extra 20 minutes of Mario today? I need my windows cleaned.” He wins, I win.

With my kid turning 13 in January, I am more and more aware that he is not a kid who fits the “norm” by any means. He doesn’t play sports. He doesn’t care about popularity. He reads a book a week. He loves drama.  He still collects Pokemon. And… he connects with other boys who play video games. I am not willing to take away this love for him.

ADD vs. Tics

I am now looking at video games more from the angle of ADD and less from tics. The tics aren’t a concern for him personally. He has friends and doesn’t mind some twitches and noises. I am realizing that the ADD is causing more of a problem than the tics themselves, and this is the new lense I am viewing the computer time through.

To the Young Moms of Kids Who Tic

With your little tickers so little, you have the opportunity to set up the culture of your home in a way that works best for you. When they are small, it’s easier to make big changes. It’s a personal choice but I say you should think about it.

Looking Back, Would I Make a Different Choice on the Video Games?

As for me, would I make a different choice on video games if my son were younger and I could set the parameters early? Maybe. But then again, even when he was small, I didn’t make the choice to eliminate them altogether. My husband is a gamer. My kid, even at 3, loved to play Elmo on the computer. I suppose, deep inside, I wish my kid was into other things, but he’s not, and guess what? I am doing the best I can. I set boundaries on certain behaviors, let other things go, and try to live with what is. (But I won’t lie: video game usage has been my biggest battle and one I still fight to this day. It’s tiring.)

What are your thoughts on this? Think I’m nuts for letting my kid play video games when maybe they would be less without them? (PS: My kid is back on Taurine and his tics are down 50%. Video game usage hasn’t changed. For me, I made the right choice. More to come.)

Until next time, May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

20 Ways to Reduce Tics

family-11

As many of you know, I’m all about raising a kid whose spirit outweighs a few tics. But now that my baby is, gulp, a month shy of 13, it’s become apparent yet again to take a look at management. His tics are loud. I mean, so loud and startling at times that this morning I yelled, “Holy Tic Man, take it down a notch!”

I get that he can’t help ticking. And I’m beyond happy that he’s okay with his Tourettes. (I know that many of your babies are not as comfortable with them. We deal with other issues and believe me, I get the heartbreak. You have an ally in me!)

But here’s the deal: I suffer from anxiety. I do. It’s waaaaay better now than it’s ever been, but here’s why. I don’t get to sit around all day and tell my husband through tears, “Ohhhh, I can’t work and pay the mortgage. I’m having a pity party and you’re not invited.” No. I take responsibility for my tendency to feel more neurotic than Willy Allen on 3 cups of Expresso fearful at times. I:

  • Eat well
  • Exercise
  • Take a little bit of Zoloft
  • Go to a few meetings each week
  • Talk to a therapist when I feel overwhelmed
  • Sleep well
  • Stay off of all mind alterating substances (No doobage and booze for this gal. I’ve been tempted lately, believe me, but I refrain.)
  • 2 cups of regular coffee in the morning only

The same has become true for Stink. The time has come for him to be a bit more pro-active with his vocal outbursts. If he can’t control them on his own (which apparently he can’t) we get to help him. We are the parents. We make the rules.

If you’re in that boat of wanting to suppress tics, here are some options for you.

BASICS (We’re on all of this except the dairy. That’s next.)

  1. Limit Screen time
  2. Insist on at least 30 minutes of exercise every day
  3. Limit sugar, food dyes and artificial flavors.
  4. Insist on a strong multi-vitamin
  5. Insist on a really good night sleep
  6. Get off gluten
  7. Get off dairy

MORE ADVANCED (We have the doctor and we started the magnesium. Next is the Taurine)

9. Naturopath – find one in your area that will take an integrative approach to tics. Ask him or her about supplements.

10. Supplements – Ask your naturopath about Taurine, Magnesium, a good fish oil

SUPER INDEPTH (This is happening in January after Ticmas Christmas.)

11. Salvia Test: Complete a 23andme.com‘s genetic saliva test to see what his DNA has to show for itself. Once you know, your doctor can see what is working in his body and what is not and treat it more efficiently.

12. Finger Stick Food Allergy – Get a finger stick food allergy panel by Alletess Labs.  Cost is $120. The test kit is sent to you, you can perform it in the convenience of your home and and then ship directly to the lab. Have results sent to your doctor. Once you know what your child is allergic to, you can start eliminating offending foods.

BONUS OPTIONS

13. GAPS: The GAPS diet is very intricate, but it has stunning results. In a nutshell, it heals the stomach lining so that food no longer slips through the holes, hits the blood stream and causes brain inflammation (which can cause tics.) Personally I would not resort to this diet without knowing if your child does indeed have a leaky gut. I would work with a naturopath on this.

14. Hemp Oil: There has been much research lately about the non-habit forming part of the pot leaf providing tremendous relief (or shall we say “re-leaf” for tics and twitches. Here is a link that someone in my Twitch and Bitch provided. Her son’s tics were so bad he had to miss school. They are 90% reduced now.

15. CBT: Known as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, this technique allows a child to transfer a loud or strong tic into one that is quieter and less obvious. It requires a certified therapist to work with your child.

16. Meditation: Just 30 minutes of meditation per day can rewire neurons and calm down the dopamine that causes tics. Learning to breathe and center oneself can keep give your child an opportunity to have more control.

17. Therapy: Having your child talk to a therapist can be huge in teaching them how to advocate for themselves. It’s crucial (in my humble opinion) to have them see their part in everything. While they can’t control tics, they can control how they advocate for themselves and how they behave toward others.

18. Treat the other Conditions: Most kids with tics have other issues. Often times when one treats the ADHD or the OCD (or whatever else is present) the child is calmer and the tics become fewer.

19. Hobbies: Insist on helping them find a hobby they love: Often times when a child finds something they are passionate about, the tics become less when they are focused on it.

20. Love Them and Have Fun: That is the best tip of all. Your child might not always remember a tic free childhood, but they will hopefully remember one filled with the support of people who adored them no matter what.

AF1

Come back this week as I’ll break down this list over the course of the next six weeks, giving more detail on each tip.

Until then, may God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

My book, Happily Ticked Off, is available on Pre-Order on Amazon. Get your copy today!

Happily Ticked offIf you would like to read more from me, please check me out on my new website, http://www.andreafrazerwrites.com.

Free range me

Well, my kid made it to Arizona safely. Shockingly enough, I didn’t spend the entire vacation without him in an anxious mess. Sure, I breathed a sigh of relief when I knew his plane landed safely, but that was about it. The few days without Stink included lots of cherished time with Pip and her dad.

We all stayed up late a few times, curled up on the green couches with books akin to those fat fluffy seals sunning themselves on rocks at the pier. (I’m currently reading Anne Lammot’s Grace, Eventually and just laughing out loud. That woman is brilliant and about as neurotic as I am. Though I have better hair. Sorry, Anne.)

The day after he left, I had tea with Tuskany. While Pip and her daughter swapped books in the next room, Tuskany quipped that I had some free-range parent characteristics. I had to laugh, because in many ways, she’s not wrong. I didn’t check Stink’s luggage. (For all I know, he could have loaded up that suitcase with Twizzlers, pens and porn.)

I didn’t even know who is parent chaperone was until I arrived at the airport that morning, groggy and disheveled from lack of coffee and sleep. In stealing kisses from my man-child and reminding him to brush his teeth at least once on the three-day trip, I forgot to ask for the chaperone’s phone number. I reckoned to myself that if he needed to get in touch with me, he could take my advice and ask another parent to use their phone.

I’m not sure how you would handle this. I do know that Tuskany would never operate in such a manner. She is truly one of the best parents I know. She has this responsible thing down pat, and her daughter, well, she’s a genius. Even Stink thinks so. (After Disneyland a few weeks back, he turned to me and said, “Mom, Nadia is the smartest girl I ever met. And she’s only in THIRD grade. Um… I think she’s smarter than me!” To which I responded, “She is smarter than you, kid!”).

I’m certain that this wunder girl’s mother would not only be sure that her daughter had her own phone, she would not be on a plane with a bunch of rag-tag public school kids going on an excavation. (I’d tell you the places they went, but I lost the itinerary before we even got to the airport. Something with rocks and deserts and Indian caves with the name Canyon tied onto the end for the tourists.)

The thing is, though, I just knew he’d be fine. He was surrounded by teachers and parents. (Some of the parents I even had cell phone numbers for and they sent me pics!) I just didn’t worry about it. Here’s one from someone who, thank God, was kind enough to show me how much Stink was enjoying the culture on Day 1.

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The Tics are Completely, 100% Gone…

…because Stink is on a trip. Yes, my big 6th-grader got on a plane yesterday with his class to hike the grand canyon and go on an archaeological dig. Not a bad scenario for a public school, eh? The most exploring I ever did in 6th grade was to go from one window of paned glass to the next for Stations of the Cross in our Catholic church. I’m thinking Stink is going to have a lot more fun.

Update on Tics

In case any of you are irritated at my false proclamation in the title, I will give you some hope that his tics have been dramatically reduced regardless of the Taurine being eliminated. I believe that the magnesium citrate and the NAC are our miracle workers. Frankly, I think it’s mostly the magnesium and not the NAC but I’m not willing to take that chance right now. I’ll do a supplement post next, but for now, I just want to talk about my 12-year-old. Why? Because he’s 12. And it is going by so fast. As I said in my post for my publishing company, Armonia, I only have 5 Christmases left with this kid.

That’s astounding. How many times have complained to him, “Put away your Wii system when you’re done with it?”

game

“Really? Do I have to remind you again that the table is for eating, not for your gaming obsessions?”

remotes

“Um, the chargers and the homework and the key chains and the Disney pins… can you please put them away?”

school shit

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The dangers of Taurine on kids

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After speaking to a nutritionist today, I have decided to take Stink off the Taurine. Despite how well he is doing tic wise (see previous post) I was advised it can be very bad for kids. It acts as a stimulate and can greatly damage the heart. That scared me.

What is Taurine?

Taurine is an amino acid sold in supplements and available in energy drinks. Taurine also occurs naturally in the body and plays a key role in many biological processes, such as detoxification and regulation of nerve-cell activity. Although low levels of taurine have been linked to several conditions (including eye diseases and cardiovascular problems), research on the health benefits of taurine supplements is limited.

Taking Stink off Taurine Slowly

Rather than quit cold turkey, I’m going to take him down to one pill/day for a week, then every other day for a week, then one, then none.

Always Check with a Professional Before Using Supplements

Normally I don’t willy nilly medicate my kids, but I had read on many mom forums that Taurine was this miracle supplement and went for it. I won’t be doing that again.

For those who are praying type, I am asking for prayers that his tics continue to stay minimal and that the NAC and Magnesium Citrate were what was helping him and not the Taurine.

Here’s one supporting article on the dangers of Taurine for kids.

Until next time…

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

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