20 Ways to Reduce Tics

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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.

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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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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CBIT Explained, Part 2: How does CBIT work?

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.

Studies published in peer reviewed journals have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBIT (part 1).

It’s thought to work by strengthening the neural pathways between the basal ganglia and the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The basal ganglia is the region of the brain where Tourette Syndrome is thought to originate by the spontaneous release of unwanted muscle actions, while the prefrontal cortex is the region of the brain where voluntary control over our actions occurs.

CBIT breaks the premonitory urge → tic → relief feedback cycle by implementing a Competing Response (CR), an action that’s less conspicuous than the tic itself and can be performed without any external aids or devices.

(Please note that even though behavioral therapies like those involved in CBIT can help reduce the severity of tics, this does not mean that tics are just psychological or that anyone with tics should be able to control them—tics due to TS are very much neurologically based and involuntary. CBIT is not  “Stop It” therapy, but rather “Do Something Else” therapy.)

In time, usually after a few of months of applying the CR combined with the other comprehensive components of CBIT, most children develop the ability to manage their tics to their satisfaction.

Having learned the techniques taught in CBIT, the child is then able, usually on their own, to develop their own CRs for other bothersome tics, and continue using the relaxation strategies and the knowledge gained from understanding their tic triggers to more effectively manage their symptoms throughout their lives.

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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List of all NJCTS webinars, including October 29 on mental health in the African-American community

THIS WEEK’S WEBINAR

Mental Health Stigma in the African-American Community

October 29, 2014

Presented by Dr. Christine Adkins-Hutchison, Associate Director of the Office of Counseling and Disability Services at Kean University in Union, N.J.

Asking for help of any kind can be difficult. Seeking psychological services can be even more challenging. For many in the African American community, acknowledging the need for help and pursuing assistance in many forms, especially in the form of counseling, can feel next to impossible.

This webinar will discuss the stigma regarding help-seeking and mental health issues that persists in this ethnic community. How to recognize the need for support, and ways to encourage help-seeking in this population also will be considered.

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR »

OTHER UPCOMING WEBINARS

Getting Kids Motivated for School

November 12, 2014

Presented by Graham Hartke, Psy.D.

More information about this webinar »

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

Studies confirm exercise effective as tic treatment

Is exercise the anti-tic medicine we don’t take enough of? Studies confirm certain exercises help tics go away.

Boy-weightsIn 2005, Drs. Leckman & Swain published a comprehensive work on TS called Tourette Syndrome & Tic Disorders: A Practical Guide to Diagnosis & Treatment. On the question of treatment, they noted that no ideal anti-tic treatment exists. Instead, challenging tics are best tackled with a multi-pronged approach that may include education, behavioral therapy, and prescription medication. Drs. Leckman & Swain mentioned diet and lifestyle, briefly acknowledging that while exercise is generally beneficial, its effects on tics are not well-studied and therefore not well understood.

Fast-forward six years to 2011: A case report detailing the use of physical exercise to treat TS, poor motor function, and pain in a 12-year-old boy is published in the Chang Gung Medical Journal. The article describes a young boy struggling with poor health for a number of reasons. He is overweight. He is having a hard time doing activities he enjoys due to pain and tightness. His mother is concerned about the negative impact of his tics on his daily life. Health-care professionals prescribe exercise and fitness training.

Once a week for three months, the boy completes a two-hour fitness session of running, stretching, muscle strengthening, balance training, and upper-body coordination exercises. The results are very positive: reduced pain, increased flexibility, improved balance, and better writing skills. On top of that, the boys’ doctors note that their patient unexpectedly “had a reduction in the severity of his tics without taking anti-tic medication” (7).

Before concluding that exercise acts as anti-tic medication, there are a few important points to consider.

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Therapy IS important … so find the right one!

I’m a huge believer in therapy for a variety of reasons:

  1. Just talking about stuff is a release
  2. No matter how great your spouse, your friends and your relatives are, it’s good to get an outside opinion
  3. If you’re paying someone to hear you rant, they HAVE to listen. Even if it’s the same rant over and over. And over. And over. And over.

Notes on finding a great therapist:

  1. If you don’t click with someone, don’t feel you’re not a candidate for therapy. Keep going until you find the right one.
  2. Don’t stick with anyone who forces their agenda on you.
  3. If you aren’t growing, it’s not the right therapist
  4. Don’t be afraid to find someone who makes you laugh out loud.

#4? That’s big for me. I found that guy. And I tell you, I have been forever transformed because of him. I rarely see him anymore, but if I have a crap week – like last week – I always know I can reach out to him.

Just his texts alone have me in better spirits. (Name crossed out to protect the innocent. Click on it for a bigger picture.)

sam

Some therapists might not take too kindly to being told to “go away” over text, but that’s why I’m not with those kinds of therapists.

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

List of all NJCTS webinars, including October 8 on Tourette in the Asian community

THIS WEEK’S WEBINAR

Mental Health Issues in Today’s Asian-American Community

October 8, 2014

Presented by Dr. Andrew J. Lee

Dr. Lee designed this webinar to provide participants information about the stigma surrounding mental health issues in Asian and Asian-American communities, some cultural factors contributing to this stigma and some suggestions as to how to talk with Asians about mental health issues.

Dr. Lee will cover Asian cultural values that may contribute to the stigma associated with seeking out mental health services, the model minority myth and the negative implications of this myth, the role of ethnic identity and acculturation, and what can be helpful to know in speaking with this ethnic population about mental health issues.

Dr. Andrew J. Lee is the Director of the Office of Counseling and Disability Services, which includes both the Kean Counseling Center and the Kean Office of Disability Services, at Kean University.

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

List of all NJCTS webinars, including October 1 on trade secrets of a Tourette doc

THIS WEEK’S WEBINAR

Trade Secrets of a Tourette Syndrome Doctor

October 1, 2014

Presented by Tolga Taneli, MD

Would you like to learn some great tips on speaking with your child’s doctors?  How about getting them all to collaborate with each other about your child?  Did you ever wonder about the drug approval process?  Learn about this and more in this webinar!

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR »

OTHER UPCOMING WEBINARS

Mental Health Issues? Asians have those? Understanding the stigma surrounding mental health for Asian and Asian Americans

October 8, 2014

Presented by Dr. Andrew J. Lee

More information about this webinar »

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