Tip #1 to Limit Tics: Reduce Electronics

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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

Kane is a TS superhero!

This is Kane! Kane is 10 years old from Murray Iowa. Kane is a loving child who enjoys helping other people! Kane and I have had quite the journey together! I was only 18 when I gave birth to this amazing young man! God blessed me with such an amazing son!

He was diagnosed with Tourette when he was 7 years old, after we noticed he was making movements and noises that were out of his control. He has vocal and muscular tics. Kane also lives with OCD, generalized anxiety, social anxiety and Impulse control disorder. Fortunately we live in a small town filled with supporters! Kane has a wonderful small class at Murray schools and his teachers allow us to celebrate Tourette Syndrome Awareness month by bringing in ribbons and snacks! Kane is able to teach his peers the ends and outs of Tourette! Kane has reached a major milestone this year!!

For the past couple years, he had been seeing a psychologist, biweekely. As of January of this year, he is no longer needing therapy!! He is a spontaneous little boy who enjoys riding his four wheeler and bicycle with his little sister! He will be participating in baseball this summer! His family and I are so proud to call him our superhero!

You can follow Kane’s story on his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/awarenessforkane

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.

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What disabilities, disorders or conditions qualify for an IEP?

The following are listed as qualifying conditions, disabilities, or disorders for an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP.  The important thing to remember for any IEP is that the condition MUST affect a child’s educational outcome.  If they are brilliant and have no problems whatsoever with learning or adapting to a classroom environment affecting the ability to learn, chances are they may not qualify.

This is a very important thing for parents to remember.  Evaluations will be done to help determine disabilities, but parents should always find out ahead of time which ones are being done, and should also do some research to make sure they are the appropriate evaluations.

The federal criteria indicates a child must be impacted in the following areas to the point where they cannot perform at grade level when given instruction at that grade level. The term the federal government gives is “adversely affected”. The following are the educational areas where a child must be adversely affected:

  • Oral Expression
  • Listening Comprehension
  • Written Expression
  • Basic Reading Skills
  • Reading Fluency Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Mathematics Calculation
  • Mathematics Problem Solving

The key to determining all of these criteria is is a history of assessments showing what areas a child may have struggled in, as well as a guarantee of appropriate professional instruction by an educator.  Once again, educational outcome must be affected!

The following are disabilities that can qualify a child for an IEP as long as they are adversely affected educationally:

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52 Weeks of TS: Week 39

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 38 weeks, you can read them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

Where is the bubble boy?! I am sick once again. Now I’ve just spent the whole week feeling miserable and obsessing on who and how I got sick. Ironically, before I got sick, I was able to use my extreme couponing abilities and I bought twenty bottles of hand sanitizer for 50 cents each. Even with the sanitizer, I still got sick, but at least I can keep bubble boy fully equipped.

Truthfully, if bubble boy did actually exist, I’d get more stares from walking around in a big bubble holding hand sanitizer and Lysol than I would for just my tics. Here we go, back into thoughts of agoraphobia, I will just never leave my house. Yet another impossible option.

How is it actually possible to be agoraphobic, when you live in NYC, you have to go to work, and you’re the person who runs the social group for the TSA-NYC? I guess what I really need to do is work on my anxiety. I know my anxiety is taking a toll on my immune system, but I’m at a point that I’m not sure what to do. I know there are things in my life that I should rid myself of, I can rid myself of some anxiety, but most of the causes of my anxiety I think I’m stuck with.

Speaking of the TSA-NYC social events, we had our Social Hour this past week. We have this the last week of every month, and I love it. It is a time to hang out with other people with TS in our area, but this week I really realized how hanging out with other people with TS really triggers my tics. I guess the alcohol doesn’t help, but even without the alcohol, I still am triggered.

For the most part, I can usually control my tics to a point, but while with other ticcers, I don’t. I’m not sure if it’s the comfort of being around people who understand what I’m going through, or just the increased social anxiety. This week I was actually embarrassed by my tics. When I’m out with them, my coprolalia comes out. Usually I can hide this in a whisper, but I was just screaming out my special words, especially if I hear the words.

That’s one of the problems, there are a couple of friends who know my tic words and they will say them, then I just scream them out. We all laugh jokingly, but the next morning I had such a feeling of shame. It’s not fun to be out at a crowded bar screaming out “peanut butter f—er” or “Hey.”

The “hey” tic isn’t that bad. That one I let out a lot throughout the day, but most people just think it’s a conversation starter. I do try to suppress this one until the right moment. I can easily walk into work, an elevator, or a room full of friends, and do the “hey” tic without anyone knowing it was just a tic. It’s one of those subtle ways I let my tics out without people knowing it’s a tic. While I talk, I can easily do my throat-clearing tic without people knowing it was a tic. I also move my shoulders and arms around a lot while talking to someone and people think I’m just very theatrical while I talk.

I do have to say, besides being sick, it was a semi-calm week. I’m glad to be back in the comfort of my own home, and back into my ritualistic daily. I know my ritualistic life can actually cause me more stress. It takes a lot out of you to wake up and do the same thing every day, the same way every day.

Right now, I’m feeling the need for change in my life. Change to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety that I go through in my day-to-day life. I think in this upcoming week, I’m going to take moves to change. I’m starting a new, reduced work schedule, which I hope will help with my anxiety. I think with my extra day off, that I’m going to look into a vitamin regimen, try to talk to a Chinese herbalist, and maybe discuss the possible outcomes of acupuncture.

I’m not saying I will actually get acupuncture, but it’s not going to hurt to discuss it with a professional. I have discussed this option a few times over the past many weeks, but never had the nerve to go through with it. My OCD just takes control, and I start thinking about where those needles have been before they are put into my body. I know that they have been sterilized, but still, they have been in someone else’s body. Ewwww!

Who knows, maybe it’s the season, or maybe I’m reflecting on all the brave kids at camp last week, but I think my life can be a lot more manageable than it is right now. Am I letting my TS control me, or am I controlling my TS? It’s a question that’s been racking my brain, or a question that I’m obsessing about. I can write and talk about what’s going on in my mind and body every week, but unless I do something about it, I’m not going to change it. I always say, “We have to open our mouths.”

We need to educate others about the realities of TS, but education starts with us. We also need to educate ourselves more about our own TS. I say I’m open about my TS, but I think the truth is there is still a small boy suffering inside me, the young Troye suffering and hiding. In these upcoming weeks that we near the end of my “52 Weeks of TS,” I’m going to work on changing myself, educating myself, and stop hiding.

Until next week, “I’ll tic to you later.”

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).

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52 Weeks of TS: Week 36

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 35 weeks, you can read them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

Well, I’m fully back into my New York state of mind. My evil neighbor (anxiety) won’t leave me alone, and my tics are crazy. My neck and back are in a lot of pain this week, and I’d love to get a massage if it wasn’t for the fact of anxiety’s roommate (OCD). Maybe I should look into investing in a massage chair, and then I would be able to get a massage, and not worry about having some stranger touching me.

This week has been a bit crazy with my tics. With all the anxiety, I feel as if my tics are coming on stronger and more than normal. With my face touching/nose tapping tic, I actually gave myself a bloody nose. I hit myself so hard it just started bleeding. At first I thought I might have broken my nose, but it stop about five minutes later.

It really sucks, I keep on injuring myself due to some tic, whether it’s bashing my elbow into my side, flinging my head around like a cocktail shaker, or bashing my face. It so frustrating and I wish it would stop. I keep on researching and reading different studies on TS, and so many of them say that a vast amount of people with TS grow out of their tics in adulthood. Why am I in that lower percentage?

I know this week, I might be coming off a little dark, but I have been a bit depressed and I don’t know why. Everything has been going well, I just think I have too much on plate. There is so much work stuff, TSA things, and not to mention I still have a houseguest sleeping on my sofa.

As I have said before, this houseguest is a close friend, but my OCD’s are going crazy because of all of her stuff lying around. It’s not that she a messy individual, it’s just that my home is not the way I like it, the organized way I need it. I only have one more week until she heads back home, and I can’t wait to have my home back to normal. I think my depression is just the fact that I’m not able to deal with my OCD tendencies around my house until she is gone. Once she is gone, I will have two days to myself that I will be able to reorganize my apartment the way I like it.

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CBIT Explained, Part 1: What is CBIT?

In this blog series, Steve Pally, administrator of the TSFC Forum (www.tourettesyndrome.ca), explains the basics of CBIT, or Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics.

CBIT (pronounced see-bit) is a non-pharmacological treatment for Tourette Syndrome.

It combines six strategic therapeutic components in the form of a clinically proven, comprehensive therapy to help a person with Tourette Syndrome manage their tics, including:

  • Psychoeducation: Examining what situations tend to make tics worse and what situations make tics better. A person can then use this knowledge to avoid the situations that exacerbate their tics or find ways to lessen their impact. They might also seek out situations that lessen tic activity.
  • Self-awareness training: Learning to recognize signs that a tic is about to occur. Tics are usually preceded by a premonitory urge which is the key to knowing when a tic is about to be expressed.
  • Relaxation training: Acquiring strategies for minimizing stress and managing tics. Examples include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery.
  • Tic Analysis: Identifying a person’s most bothersome tic (Note: not the tic that bothers someone else,but rather the tic that causes individual the most discomfort, distress or difficulty). A CBIT therapist helps the individual to recognize any premonitory urge or urges that precede that particular tic. They then break down the tic into its components (i.e., the precise muscle movements involved in the tic from start to finish).
  • Competing Response (CR)/Tic Blocker: Responding to the urge to perform a particular tic with an action that’s less conspicuous than the tic itself and can be performed without any external aids or devices. For example, if a person with TS has a tic that involves head rubbing, a new action might be for that person to place his or her hands on his or her knees, or to cross his or her arms so that the head rubbing cannot take place. Once a person identifies a CR for their bothersome tic, they perform the CR whenever they experience the urge to perform the bothersome tic, until the urge passes, usually in a minute or two.
  • Social support: Getting encouragement and assistance from family, friends and educators. Parents may have to advocate on their child’s behalf at school to alert teachers about a child’s needs. Positive reinforcement at home is also important for children. When a child employs the correct CR, they should be praised. If they happen to miss using the CR and the tic emerges, parents need to remind the child about using the CR, not in a punitive tone, but in a supportive and encouraging one.

CBIT does not cure Tourette Syndrome or eradicate tics; rather, it provides strategies to help manage tic symptoms and lessen their impact.

IMG_0038-avatar--wAbout the blogger: Steve Pally was diagnosed with TS as an adult in his mid-forties. He has volunteered with TSFC for nearly three decades and currently co-administers the TSFC information and support Forum at www.TouretteSyndrome.ca. His interest in CBIT was sparked when he realized many of the strategies taught in a ten-week period in CBIT today were familiar to him, but took him decades on his own to discover them, as have many other adults with TS. That’s why he is eager to acquaint as many people as he can with CBIT so they can take advantage of recent developments for tic management.

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 »

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10 signs of Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s syndrome is a neurological disorder in the family of autism spectrum disorders. Because every child exhibits a different set of symptoms, there is no precise checklist of behaviors that must all be present for a diagnosis. Instead, there are many behaviors that may be signs of Asperger’s syndrome. Here we’ve rounded up 10 of the common behaviors to watch for, as shared by moms whose kids have the condition.

1. Fixation on One Activity

Many children with Asperger’s syndrome are preoccupied with a single or a few interests and focus on them for hours on end. As Circle of Moms member Karen R. shares: “The most common report from every parent I know . . . is that their kid fixated on something (their cars, their blue toys, their books) and played or attended [to] that thing for an outrageously long time.”

2. “Little Professor” Speech

“Typically a child with Asperger’s sounds like a little professor,” shares one Circle of Moms member, Sheila D. “They tend to have advanced verbal skills, but due to the autism aspect of the syndrome they might seem fixated on a topic that they want to talk about all the time.” Children with Asperger’s syndrome may also speak more formally than usual for their age or prefer talking to adults.

3. Difficulty Reading Social Cues

Social difficulties are another key sign of Asperger’s syndrome. Reading body language may be hard, as well as taking turns or holding a conversation. As Eliana F. shares: “Group work at school is also hard for him, as he does not understand waiting his turn or accepting others point of view.” Similarly, Colleen notes: “My son is very social, but he doesn’t engage in two way conversations. He just talks and talks.” As a result of their social difficulties, children with Asperger’s syndrome may seem isolated from their peers.

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