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

52 Weeks of TS: Week 49

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. With just THREE weeks remaining in this series, there’s a chance you missed one more entries from his exciting, revealing journey. You can read all of them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

OK, this is really it. We are coming so close to the end of this series. I really can’t believe how fast this year has flown by. Is it really already the end? I spent the evening in a minor anxiety attack. I guess the fish oil does not help with all anxiety. I tried to keep distracted with TV, but it was not helping that much. I did end up having to take a Klonopin just to relax myself so I was able to go to sleep. By the time I woke up the next morning, I pretty much forgot about the events of the night before, but I was quickly reminded.

I was walking along the area rug in my bedroom when I heard and felt a crunch under the rug. This is usually no big deal. I am always finding something that the cats got a hold of and have hidden under the rug. I have found pencils, matches, pen caps and whatever they get a hold of, but I never expected to find a mouse. Yep, a mouse. I felt and heard the crunch, and without thinking, I just lifted the corner of the rug to find out what they put under there this time. There it was, lying lifeless but its germ and disease slowly spreading through my home.

After a minor freak out, I knew I had to remove the deceased body myself. I went into the kitchen, and retrieved a pair of tongs and a garbage bag. After picking up the mouse with the kitchen tongs and putting the mouse and the tongs in a large kitchen garbage bag, I threw everything down the garbage shoot and went on to Lysol almost every square inch of my apartment.

I have spent most of the past 48 discussing different ways and options that I was attempting to help with any of my symptoms of TS. One of the most effective things is fish oil for my anxiety, but it is definitely not working on OCD and Germaphobia. I have tried many different paths, a lot of them with no outcome, but that’s just my case.

People with TS are all different, so something that doesn’t work for me, might actually work for someone else. I have been trying acupuncture and Chinese herbs and I am closely approaching the six-week period where I should be seeing some type of change, but I haven’t seen much of a change so far. I have tried to pay attention to any differences in my body, but all I can notice is maybe more tics, or just a harder time trying to suppress my tics. I don’t know if this is the Chinese herbs, or just the comfort and acceptance that has grown inside me.

I have grown a lot this year, and become very comfortable with myself and who I am. That’s what life is for, to grow. Even though the year is close to the end, I still plan to continue on my journey of growing and educating and I hope you do, too. Until next week, “I’ll tic to you later.”

52 Weeks of TS: Week 43

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. With just 9 weeks remaining in this series, there’s a chance you missed one more entries from his exciting, revealing journey. You can read all of them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

This week has been a bit of a stressful week. Now remember there is a difference between stress and anxiety. My anxiety is still at an all-time low, but we are always going to deal with the everyday stress that life brings us. I’ve been planning a big book release/signing party for my book “A Day in the Life of Tourette Syndrome.” This event is going to be a big event, with approximately 150 people, and just finalizing all the plans and making sure there are enough books for everyone is stressing me out a bit. I think the excitement of the situation is also adding to the stress factor.

It has been an interesting week looking into myself and my anxiety. I know that different medications and supplements work differently on different people, but I do have to say, I’m really believing that the fish oil has helped with the anxiety. The anxiety plagued me 24/7, but all of a sudden, it’s gone. My unwanted neighbor, anxiety, has been evicted.

I do wonder if it is the fish oil, or maybe even the waxing and waning of TS, but I’m going to go with the fish oil. I have been on quite a few medications for the anxiety, including Klonopin, for the past six years. This week I actually reached a point of wanting to cut out the Klonopin. I have been on Klonopin for the past six years, with no real relief at all.

Upping the dosage, lowering the dosage, changing the times of when I took the pill, and nothing helped. The anxiety was still there, but two weeks of taking fish oil, I miraculously notice a difference. I’m going to see my doctor next week and talk to him about getting off the Klonopin permanently, or at least for the time being.

The anxiety might be gone, but the tics and the OCD are still there.

Continue reading

UPCOMING WEBINAR: February 25 on Sensory Issues at Home & at School

THIS WEEK’S WEBINAR

Making Sense of Sensory Issues – How to manage heightened senses at home and in the classroom

February 25, 2015

Presented by Dr. Michelle Miller, Psy.D., a New York State-licensed clinical psychologist who works at Therapy West, a group practice in Manhattan, and as post-doctoral fellow in the Tourette’s Syndrome Clinic at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J.

Over the years, parents and teachers have been increasingly attending to childrens’ sensory-related struggles; however, understanding and supporting sensory problems still remains unclear for so many people who work with children. Research also has suggested that 1 in 6 children are significantly impacted by sensory issues, further highlighting the need for this area to be addressed. This webinar is aimed at exploring what sensory issues are, how they look in different children and adults, and what can be done — both at home and at school — to help children with sensory issues thrive.

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR »

Continue reading

UPCOMING WEBINAR: January 21 on Habit Reversal Therapy

THIS WEEK’S WEBINAR

Creative Applications of Exposure Therapy and Habit Reversal Therapy

January 21, 2015

Presented by Dr. Joelle Beecher-McGovern, a clinical psychotherapist at the Child & Adolescent OCD, Tic, Trich & Anxiety Group (COTTAGe) in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has strong experiential support for a number of psychiatric disorders among children and adolescents. It includes several treatment modalities, including exposure therapy for pediatric anxiety and habit reversal training for tic disorders and trichotillomania. Despite the strong evidence for these treatments, they can be difficult for children and families to implement for a number of reasons, including logistical barriers, motivation issues and difficulties with follow-through in out-of-session work.

In this presentation, Dr. Hilary Dingfelder will briefly describe these treatment modalities and discuss some of the practical issues associated with implementing these treatments with children and adolescents. Dr. Dingfelder will then discuss some creative applications of these strategies to enhance these treatments for children and adolescents. Examples of areas that will be covered include:

  1. How technology can be used to supplement treatment (e.g., using the smart phone to monitor progress or supplement exposures)
  2. How to strengthen reward plans to improvement motivation
  3. Creative ways to enhance exposures with young children (e.g., through the use of games and puppets).

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR »

Continue reading

Understanding depression in children

As a child or teen, did it bother you when people would comment “these are the best years of your life”?

For many children, this blanket statement is a stark contradiction from the reality they know. A bulk of people experience a childhood or adolescence that is not always filled with rosy or positive experiences.

Once considered impossible, today’s experts are aware that even young children sometimes suffer from depression. As a parent, it’s hard to acknowledge that your child might be suffering from this ailment. If you feel that a child is suffering from depression it’s important to understand the facts, signs, symptoms, and pointers to help a child cope.

Childhood Depression

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry now estimates that typically one in 20 children or teens are depressed. This is shocking when you consider that within every classroom is a high probability that at least one child in attendance is suffering from depression.

Depression is a real medical condition and should be treated accordingly. Many parents feel there is a stigma attached to a child if it is suspected that she suffers from depression. Unfortunately, this is an illness that they can’t just “snap out of” and requires attention.

“Depression is no more a result of ‘bad parenting’ than is diabetes or cancer,” says Dr. David Fassler, co-author of “Help Me, I’m Sad”: Recognizing, Treating and Preventing Childhood and Adolescent Depression. “All are real illnesses that require careful evaluation. The good news is that we can help most children and adolescents.”

Continue reading

52 Weeks of TS: Week 32

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. In cased you missed any of the first 31 weeks, you can read them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

This week I have been doing a lot of thinking; well, I guess my brain is always thinking, but this week I guess, I’ve been listening to my thoughts more. I’ve been trying to listen and understand why my body does the things it does. Even at 37 years old, my body still confuses me.

I’ve been doing the back and forth trips between New York City and Martha’s Vineyard. In the beginnings of my time in Martha’s Vineyard, I said my anxiety levels were at an all time low, but my tics had stayed the same. With all the back and forth trips, I have realized that my tics might have calmed down a bit in more relaxing situations.

There is always something going on in my head, whether it’s my OCD, my anxiety, tics or ADHD. It often feels like Grand Central in my head, so sometimes it’s hard to notice if something has calmed down, like my tics. Sometimes you just don’t realize when the tics are calm outside of a stressful situation, until you’re back in a stressful situation.

For the most part, people don’t realize I have TS, unless they are with me later in the day or early evening when my body is tired of suppressing. My TS affects me in many ways, but I would probably have to say the actual tics are on the bottom of the scale. Even though I tic throughout the whole day, they are usually very mild. It’s really all of the underlying disorders that affect me almost every moment of the day.

There is usually not a moment in the day that there is not some sort of OCD thought racing through my head, which then triggers the anxiety. I know I need to pay more attention to my triggers, and focus on what helps. I take my Klonopin, but I’m beginning to wonder, how much is it really helping? I know the one mg that I take at night helps quiet my mind and helps me sleep, but I’m not sure how much the .5mg that I take in the morning is really helping.

When I first started taking the .5mg in the morning it would make me so zombie like, so I started taking it with a coffee to somewhat level me out. I think it’s time to cut out the coffee part of it. Within 10 minutes of drinking the coffee, the caffeine is racing through my blood stream, causing more anxiety feeling. HELLO, why am I taking something for anxiety, but mixing it with something that brings out my anxiety? It’s time to cut the caffeine.

Continue reading

Guest blogger: “I swear it isn’t true”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was shared by Tourettes Action on its Facebook page. It originally comes from the blog of guest blogger Adrian.

mind1

For nearly three years I’ve written a blog about running and mental health, and in particularly the impact of exercise on mental health, and vice versa. I’ve gone from a non-runner seeing everyone else do it, to a seasoned marathon runner, who alas is still beaten by the unprepared drunk smoker.

I’ve raced alongside men and women of every height, shape, size and disability and have had every sense of ego beaten out of me. More importantly, I hope my blogs have opened up a discussion about mental health, which still leaves millions suffering in silence due to the stigma attached, and the lack of government support for what is a huge problem in the UK and globally.

Through running, sales and various other events online and offline, I’ve managed to raise around £5000 for Mind and it is without doubt the best thing I’ve done, except perhaps for inventing the Snickers bagel.

However, I feel the need to apologise. I’ve written in depth of my own story, usually trying to use humour to keep people reading, thinking and supporting the cause. I’ve admitted my own battles with depression which have taken over much of my life, and which I’m aware will always be there.

Sometimes it’s the only way I see my life ending, but then something comes along and gives you hope. It does always get better, we all hang on to that fact, but battling year after year can take its toll on anyone. All any of us can do is keep talking, listening, trying to understand and realising that whatever problem someone has, physical, mental or just a difficult time in life, we’re all here together.

So why am I apologising? Well, I’ve held back a lot in what I’ve wanted to write about. I don’t just suffer from depression although it’s been a huge part of my life. I find that easier to write about because it impacts more people and helps more people relate, Mind is big enough charity to make real positive change and needs our help. I wanted to fight stigma, and it remains slightly cool because Stephen Fry has it. I’m half joking.

logo_tourettesaction

Yet I have Tourette Syndrome. I hate the words. The sound of them, the sight of them, even grammatically, is it Tourette’s Syndrome? I suggest so given it’s named after someone called Tourette. Why couldn’t he have been called Gilles de la Awesome. I’ve got awesome syndrome. Or as the public seem to know it, hilarious swearing disease.

The butt of many jokes in TV and films, always the same with someone swearing inappropriately at a person or quiet location. I’m yet to see a genuinely funny Tourette’s joke. Perhaps that’s my main problem with it. I’m more offended as a comedy fanboy than I am as a Tourette’s sufferer. I once mocked someone drunkenly walking into a lamppost and several seconds later twitched myself into the same lamppost and fell over. Tourettic retribution.

The public perception has meant many people would have no idea I have it, some might not believe me now, some haven’t in the past. Sometimes I’ll be controlling it very well, maybe for months, but it is very much still there. More of you will of course be thinking, yeah, we knew all that you twitchy freak. And I have no problem with that.

Continue reading

UPCOMING WEBINAR: November 12 on getting kids motivated for school

THIS WEEK’S WEBINAR

Getting Kids Motivated for School: Strategies to foster your child/teen’s motivation to achieve in school

November 12, 2014

Presented by Dr. Graham Hartke, is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Roseland, N.J.

As our schools continue to increase curriculum, testing, and workload standards, many kids and teens are struggling to stay motivated in school. These are students who do not like school, struggle to complete homework, procrastinate often, have slipping grades, are bored, say they “don’t care about school”, avoid school work, get in trouble, are disorganized, and/or feel disconnected from classroom learning.

This webinar focuses on strategies parents and educators can use to increase student motivation to succeed in school. Strategies will address the causes of low motivation, learning difficulties, improving the homework process, improving organization, and reducing procrastination.

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR »

OTHER UPCOMING WEBINARS

 

Bullying & Vulnerable Populations

November 19, 2014

Presented by Nadia Ansary, Ph.D.

More information about this webinar »

Monsters, Robbers & Nightmares, Oh My! Simple Ways to Improve Your Child’s Sleep

December 3, 2014

Presented by Courtney Weiner, Ph.D.

More information about this webinar »

Continue reading

52 Weeks of TS: Week 26

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. In cased you missed any of the first 25 weeks, you can read them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

Yep, Week 26. Wow, the year is halfway done, and so is 52 Weeks of TS. After all of the craziness of packing and dealing with identity theft last week, I’m glad this week started in a new setting. I’m in Martha’s Vineyard for the next two months to finish writing my book “A Day in the Life of Tourette Syndrome.”

It’s nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of NYC, and in a setting where I can try to relax. I have spent the last week doing a lot of writing and relaxing. I do have to say my anxiety level is at an all time low, but the tics are still the same. They might have gone down a little bit, but I really can’t say I’ve noticed much change.

I guess I have to face the fact that I’m really stuck this way. Sometimes it’s just so frustrating that I want to scream. I know I could be dealing with things a lot worse or diseases, but I still have to play the “Poor me card”. It’s hard, always dealing with stares, or having to explain yourself.

Even though I’m not in the crowded city of New York, I’m still surrounded by people. I’m in a house with six other people, which is very different from what I’m used to. There is always someone around, and not much alone time. I thrive on my alone time at home, and now I’m in a situation where I’m not going to get that It’s just something that I will have to deal with and acclimate to.

Most of the people I’m staying with are family, which is a good thing. If they were strangers, I’d probably go crazy. I don’t have to explain anything to them, they all know about my TS, and my crazy OCD’s. If I’m not writing, I’m probably cleaning some strange part of the house.

I was able to escape most of my anxiety, it’s nice to leave that back in New York, but along with the tics, my OCD also accompanied me to the vineyard. I’d like to think that I’m not afraid of death. It’s inevitable, it’s going to happen. If it happens, it happens, but here’s the question: If I’m not afraid of death, then why do all of my OCD’s revolve around death?

The kitchen has to be clean, otherwise the germs will spread and then I’ll get sick and die. I can’t touch anything on the subway, because it’s filled with germs that will kill me. I don’t know, but it’s just an interesting thought.

Continue reading