My son, Anthony, has Tourette Syndrome. Anthony is 9 years old and started displaying mild tics around the age of 3. The tics would wax and wane, the severity of them never being bad enough to be disconcerting to Anthony or myself. He did very well in school, was very sociable and was always on his best behavior.
Then came second grade. About halfway through the school year Anthony’s tics got worse, going from simple to complex and including phonic as well as motor tics. His behavior also began to change. He became more disagreeable, argumentative and began to be disruptive in class. He grades started declining and his teacher expressed concerns about his well being and self esteem. We went to the neurologist again and this time they diagnosed him with Tourette Syndrome.
Anthony also began displaying obsessive compulsive behaviors and was then diagnosed with OCD. The OCD got to the point that it was far worse than any of the tics he displayed and was extremely unsettling for Anthony. He began CBT to help him say no to OCD and gradually it got better. It hasn’t disappeared, but is much better than it was. In the midst of all this, we also had reasons to believe that he also has ADHD. His reading and writing skills have plummeted; he cannot retain anything that he reads. He is unable to sit still and focus in the classroom and is disruptive to his schoolmates. Even watching a movie at home is difficult, we have to constantly rewind because he missed something. At first I thought it was because he was giving so much energy and concentration into just getting through the day trying to manage the symptoms of the Tourette and OCD. But, the psychiatrist said that we’d be able to tell the difference with appropriate evaluations. So, we did the evaluations and and he had very high markers for ADHD.
So, Anthony has Tourette Syndrome with co-morbid disorders of OCD and ADHD. I have chosen to take a natural approach to treating his symptoms as I couldn’t bear the thought of all the negative side affects he’d experience being on the prescription meds. He has a very strict diet and gets a lot of exercise (he is on a travel hockey team), he takes homeopathic and herbal supplements as well as vitamin and mineral supplementation. He takes magnesium chloride baths several times a week and I do deep massage therapy a couple nights a week. He also has sensory issues and so we do dry brushing and have a weighted blanket for sleeping. I have seen an improvement with his tics and anxiety levels but it hasn’t helped his focus or retention.
I’m also now seeing his disorders affect him on the ice as far as being able to follow the play and know where to be. Hockey was his one safe place where he always felt at his best. Now, that is suffering too and it’s very upsetting to him. He hasn’t made the connection, he just keeps saying he is in a bad slump. His symptoms also seems to be cyclical in their severity, with the Fall/Winter being the worst and the Spring/Summer the best. I contribute this to a build up of anxiety as the new school year begins, but I am not positive.
I’m at a point where I’m now considering trying medication as I do not want to see him struggle another year, barely getting by in school, nor do I want to see his game start to decline because hockey means everything to him. Before the onset of the Tourette, OCD and ADHD he was always ahead of grade level with everything. I can see that his self esteem is suffering a bit and that hurts the most. He is such a wonderful, caring human being. I want him to accept himself for who he is and embrace his struggles, as I know in the long run they will make him stronger. But, I also want to help him in any way that I can without harming him in the meantime. I don’t know anyone with a child who has similar issues and so I wanted to find a group that could relate to what we are going through and from which I might gather new ideas for approaching the treatment of his symptoms. I just feel very lost and very frustrated at the moment and I wish that I had some help in making these tough decisions.