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

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.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I would love to connect with you. 

HolisTIC: Magnesium Citrate and Taurine

This post is dedicated to Veronica, who was sweet enough to write me a little note asking me where the heck I have been. She misses me! Hooray! I have missed this site, too. To be honest, I have been kind of a whirling dervish of house work, kids, trying to figure out employment, getting a new job, quitting because my boss was an 84-year old maniac who couldn’t stop screaming about my subject lines “Horseshxt! Superfulous Horsehixt!”, fretting over finances, attempting not to fret over finances and ultimately deciding that my priority for now is to be as present with my kids as possible given that we have a four-month summer coming up.

Yes, let me say that again. FOUR MONTHS.

Here is how I feel about that concept.

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Just kidding. It’s more like this.

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But that’s okay. I am going to make the most of it. I have finally decided to make my income by concentrating full-time on Ebay and freelance writing. Sounds like a weird mix, but it works.

Writing Clients

Blogging for a surrogacy company – GlobalIVF

Bloggin for a prescription discount company – SimpleRX

Ebay

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Here’s my store. I am figuring out the most efficient ways to list, sell and ship my items. The ultimate goal is less thrift store items and more New with Tag items purchased downtown. I figure if I buy the same item in bulk, I only have to list it once rather than taking a gazillion photos/day. Other than filling orders, I can spend my time taking care of my wee ones and working on my book marketing which leads me to my final two points:

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52 Weeks of TS: Week 46

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 6 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.

I’m tired!! I have to say, I think this has been one of the longest, most exhausting weeks that I’ve had in a while. I had a freelance job doing hair and makeup for a high school musical, which I do about 5 times a year, but this one was different. I usually design the show three weeks in advance, but I missed two weeks. I ended up designing the show on Monday, and we opened on Wednesday. This just made for a very stressful week, not anxiety, but a lot of stress.

Just like anxiety, stress triggers my tics, so it’s been a very ticcy week. I feel as if my brain has been bouncing around inside my skull all week. My neck tic has been bad all week, and I’ve been taking aspirin for the constant headache that does not seem to go away.

Usually, I try not to suppress my tics in my everyday life, but while I’m working in the high school all bets are off. I just feel as if I have to suppress them.

I guess it has to do with my own high school experience. There was always constant mocking and my fellow students were always making fun of me. Once I walk back into a school, it tends to bring me back to that time and place. It’s a cruel world we live in. I try not to suppress my tics in many adult situations, but when you’re dealing with uneducated ignorance and immaturity of high school kids, it can be hard to explain. How do you teach someone something who thinks that they know everything?

A person with Tourette Syndrome has to have thick skin. It’s not something we are born with, but we have to grow it. I thought about this a lot this week, and I’ve realized that we have been supplied the greatest weapon for our fight to educate — our mouth. The more we open our mouths, the thicker our skin becomes and the stronger we become, but it can be a hard thing to do.

When we are kids, we are scared, nervous and possibly beaten down by ignorance. It can take a lot for those shy kids to battle their own fears and demons, to turn around and speak about the very thing that has brought them down. Look at me. It took me about 15 years to start my battle against ignorance, and I still deal with fear. Despite the fear, I still try to fight the fight and continue to educate people.

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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.

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52 Weeks of TS: Week 42

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 10 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.

Welcome to the wonderful world of TS, a world that brings on strange and mysterious underlying disorders. Additions to our state of mind that we might never expect, this week is depression. I don’t suffer from this much, but when I do, it hits me like a brick wall. Earlier this week that brick wall hit me out of nowhere.

It was a normal day, and by 5:00 pm, I felt the brick wall of depression crumbling around me. I ask myself, “why?” I have been working so hard to try to make changes to better my life. I just released a book, that I hope will help people all over, I changed jobs to get out of the negativity and immaturity of the previous job setting, but still the depression finds its way inside me.

On this night, I sat there and watched mindless TV with my husband, but I just sat there in a funk. The whole night I was on the verge of tears, but there was no explanation for it. My husband asked me a few times why I was so crabby, in which I responded, “I’m not crabby.” I couldn’t tell him that I was depressed, and had feelings of just not wanting to be here anymore. If I had said those words, he would have just asked why I was depressed.

How do you explain to someone that you have no idea why you’re going through this, but to link it back to this TS thing I have. We finally did go to bed and he still pushed me for an answer as to why I was acting so weird. As I sat there in the darkness of our room, the tears quietly rolled down and I still said nothing was wrong. By this point, he knew something was up, but I was still unable to explain it.

It scares me sometimes, because I don’t want to scare him. Maybe it’s the OCD inside me, but all I could think of is what was he thinking, “Did he think something is wrong with our relationship?” No, that’s not it. I don’t know why I am this way. It’s somewhat funny, ironically half way through the night he showed me an article about the creativity in writers with mental illness. As we laid there, he asked me if what I was going through had anything to do with that article. I told him, “No, ironically it started before I even read the article.”

The little bout of depression lasted just a couple days, as it always does. In the midst of my depression, I did have my acupuncture appointment. The anxiety and fear built up as the appointment approached. I actually tried to come up with excuses to cancel the appointment, but sucked up my fear and went to the appointment.

The appointment started with an interview about my medical history. I filled out a form checking off all my medical history. One of the things I did check off was depression. When the acupuncturist came back in the room, and looked over my form, she started asking about everything I checked off. When she asked about the depression I told her I go through it once a year for a couple days, and before I could even finished the sentence I burst into tears.

For no reason, I was sitting there crying in front of a woman I had known for about five minutes, how embarrassing… She said not to worry about it. I told her besides the depression I was also dealing with many OCD issues and increased anxiety about being there and having acupuncture. In actuality, it was not that bad. A few light pokes from clean, unused needles and I was quite relaxed.

I have to go back next week and do the acupuncture again, I think it might be a once a week thing. We’ll see how well it works with the tics and anxiety. I did tell her that I was on a new regimen of multivitamins, fish oil, and that I felt that it was working on my anxiety. She explained that fish oil could help with anxiety. I do have to say, I really feel like the fish oil has been helping. I usually have such horrible anxiety about leaving my apartment and getting on the subway, but now it’s not that bad of an event. There is still a little anxiety, but the level has dropped dramatically.

I hate talking about going to the bathroom, but I have discussed this a few times in the past weeks. Since the event back in august at the airport, I’ve been really trying to pay attention to my bathroom behavior. I have notice I actually do tic more during and after going to the bathroom. It’s one more strange realization, but it does put me into a small tic attack.

It’s a funny thing that we can walk through life but if we’re not paying attention, we might not realize certain things about ourselves. How are we supposed to educate others about a disorder that we have, if we don’t even know ourselves? This year has been a great year, and I have learned so much about my body, and my unwelcomed guests Tourette Syndrome, OCD, anxiety disorder, etc.

I’m glad I’m learning more about myself, and am now able to educate people about what I’m going through. Before coming out of the so-called, “TS closet”, I was uneducated about what I was going through. However, through research, asking questions, educating myself, and just looking into myself, I feel like I know my body more than ever.

While I was in the “TS closet”, I spent much of my time blaming others. I have stopped blaming others now. We can’t blame the world for our problems. We are the solution. If we educate ourselves, we can educate others. I think that we all will have to deal with experiences of ignorance, and all we can do is open our mouths and try to educate. If they are unwilling to learn, that is their own ignorance. We just have to remember that we are the solution.

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

52 Weeks of TS: Week 40

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 12 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.

How closely is addiction to OCD? I guess it depends on the type of OCD you have. As I’ve said before, my OCD revolve mostly around germs and organization. With my OCDs I have created little addictions. I’m addicted to cleaning, addicted to the use of hand sanitizer, and a bad addiction I have developed, is a shopping and couponing addiction. I guess there are worse things to be addicted to, but it still has its effects on my life.

I could spend hours a day, organizing my couponing, and coordinating my next shopping excursion. You might think, what is wrong with shopping, especially if you have coupons? But I think there are times I go overboard. I only buy something if it’s on sale, and I have a coupon. It’s even better if I also receive a bonus store credit.

This week I went on my little shopping spree, I spent almost $700, saved about $300 on sales, $150 in coupons, and received a store credit of $150 to use on my next purchase. So all together, I spent about $100, but when I got home and looked at all the items, I just purchased and wondered how this tied in with my OCD. I sat there and looked at my stockpile. Do I really have a need for what’s in my stockpile?

  1. 11 jars of jelly
  2. 20 cans of Pringles
  3. 9 boxes of granola bars
  4. 10 boxes of dryer sheets
  5. 14 bottles of laundry detergent
  6. 5- 12 packs of paper towels
  7. 16 boxes of tissue
  8. 21 bottles of hand sanitizer
  9. 13 tubes of toothpaste
  10. 8 bottles of mouthwash
  11. 14 bottles of Nyquil
  12. 16 sticks of deodorant
  13. 13 bottles of shampoo
  14. 10 bottles of conditioner
  15. 19 bottles of body wash

This is just the half of it. The list goes on. Is this too much? Is this ridiculous? I think maybe a little.

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FantasTIC Friday No. 1: Tic, tic, tic … BOOM!

For myself, as much as to benefit others who might be looking for tic reduction, I am dedicating Fridays to all things FantasTIC about TS. This is included, but not limited to:

  • Stink’s tics
  • My emotional journey
  • My book
  • My husband’s dog
  • My beautiful daughter
  • My job search
  • My crazy nut job pit bull mix, and more…

Tics are through the roof — the worst yet

I swear, we had a great run. I mean, super great – to the point where I kind of thought “Ha ha! Stink is dodging the tween bullet of escalating tics! We’ve escaped!”

But then the school year started and he began stinking like a gym bag and eating more food than the rest of us combined, including our ridiculous buffoon of a dog. Puberty is on. And so are the tics. Really excessive vocals that sound like quacking and “hey hey hey” over and over. Head shakes. Eye rolls. Rapid talking verging on hyper. All started Monday.

My emotional journey — skip this part if you’ve had enough wine for the night

While I’d love to say I’ve remained calm, that is not true. I had a full scale melt down on my spouse yesterday. I mean, epic. It went something like this:

Me: Do you hear those sounds? They are non-stop. I’m really really worried.

Him: Yes, I hear them.

Me: But are you worried? I mean, aren’t you kind of freaked out?

Him: No, I’m not freaked out. (side note: my husband must be a robotic deaf automaton) But yes, they are bad. (side note: at least he can recognize the increase so I’m not completely nuts.)

Me: OK, we need a plan. WE. NEED. A. PLAN.

Him: We can’t fix the tics.

Me: I know! But what about a plan! Something! Anything! How about looking into medication if it doesn’t bet better?

Him: For him, or you, because this kid is fine. It’s not affecting him.

Me: It’s affecting me!

Him: Then go get some pills!

Me: How about I just start downing copious amounts of liquor! And smoke a bowl of high grade doobage. Hey, I hear doobage is great for tics.

Him: How about you just calm down and get out for a while.

Me: Fine! I will! But if this continues, and we don’t medicate it, I’m going to be getting out of this house every day for the rest of our life and that sucks!

Other choice words followed. It was not exactly Fantasy Island.

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Updated supplement list

Many of you have asked about Stink’s Supplement List. I have written several posts in the past about it here. But here is an update.

Please note: This is what works for Stink, but might not work for you. TS is wonky, with some folk needing specific supplements for their kids with OCD or ADD or more. Although you can do what I did and fight with your husband about wacky supplements you buy off the internet, vitamin shops or simply the hippy at the Renaissance Fair who claims to cure head nods through hemp and organic whale balls, I suggest you go through a homeopathic doctor or expertly trained nutritionist.

Neurologist Warning: Do not expect a Western Medicine trained neurologist to tell you how to help your child naturally because they will look at you like you are a Cling-On and write you off as Jenny McCarthy’s best friend with more conspiracy theories than Shirley McClain.

Dosages (Taken morning only with food)

  • 1 Chewable Suntheanine Natural
  • 1 Nordic Naturals Children DHA – 250 mg
  • 1 Magnesium Citrate – 200 mg
  • 1 Taurine – 500mg
  • 1 Vitamin Code Raw B Complex
  • 2 Juice Plus Fruit Chewables
  • 2 Juice Plus Veggie Chewables

Diet: In addition to supplements, Stink is 80 percent gluten and dairy free with loads of fresh fruits and veggies. We are working our way into the “Organic Only” zone, but I have to do this slowly or my head will explode which isn’t amazing for tics control.

Update on Stink as of September 2013: He was on 2mg of Intuniv for focus but now is not as it made him very tired. I will consider something else for him if his academic and personal life are adversely affected. Also, he is only taking the Juice Plus now as we have been lazy and so far tics are still very manageable. As soon as there is a spike we will go back to the regular routine again.

Replace fear with faith

I speak to so many of you worried mamas offline. I was once like you — scared about the future, dreaming of fearful “what-if” scenarios, wondering if my kid jumped up and down in excitement over a surprise Disneyland trip if this might, in turn, make him jump up and down 1,000 more times and he’d develop a compulsive tic that resembled a springy clown from a jack-in-the-box.

In fact, what if he started obsessing about clowns or, worse, started shouting the word “Clown! Clown!” when he was supposed to be sitting quietly on the tram or paying attention in Circle Time?

I want to tell you that none of those things ever came to pass which is a great thing for me, my kid, and any people on public transportation or at public school who have a terrible phobia of clowns.

What I did start doing, however, was the best thing that could ever have happened since my son’s TS diagnosis. It was a cure I didn’t think would be more powerful than a Tic Tamer, Bonnie Grimaldi Vitamins, NAC or Gluten Free/Dye Free/GMO organic elephant poo from India — but it really was magical. It was called Faith over Fears.

“Oh, man, this is not what I wanted to hear,” some of you might say. (In fact, you one mama in the Midwest who has been Googling for cures all night… I just heard you groan from here.)

To your “arrgs” I want to say, “I know. I wouldn’t have wanted to hear my advice at the beginning either. But I wish someone would have told me anyway, because it’s the best cure there is.”

It looks something like this: Continue reading