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Keeping busy with Tourette

I am the mother of a wonderful, smart, sensitive girl who is also one of the strongest and most resilient people I know. She has Tourette Syndrome. It has been an emotional morning finding this site and reading so many personal stories that mirror our family’s experiences with TS over the past 5 years. Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and helping me through what has been a difficult few weeks.

I wanted to share my thoughts regarding down time and TS. As discussed here, TV, iPods, iPads, video games definitely seem to have a direct correlation with an increase in my girl’s motor and verbal tics. I prefer to think of these devices as thoughtless activity.

But … I have also observed there are many activities that keep her mind and hands busy that help reduce her tics. Crochet, knitting, friendship bracelets — you know, all the crafty stuff. These types of activities seem to engage her body and mind.

I believe it is the problem-solving aspects and the fine motor activity that helps — Legos, Kinex, Sudoku or other puzzles help, too. You may say, “Well, my child is not very crafty.” Keep in mind, mine has never finished any project. She does not seem to care about the end result, but the process is what she uses to keep busy.

The hoards of lose yarn and paper scraps that fill our home seem a small price to pay. As most of you know TS is fluid and nothing works all the time, I consider these activities like a soothing blanket but it does not always work.

We are still searching for the perfect fit for her, and we are considering guitar lessons since she loves Taylor Swift. (She is 11, so go figure!) We hope guitar will give her the fine motor stimulation and complex processing that seems to calm her tics.

Has anyone else had luck with activities that focus on fine mortar and cognitive problem solving? Any suggestions? I have a ton more questions to ask everyone but will start here and hope to continue building my knowledge base from everyone here. Thanks!

9 Comments

  1. My daughter had her official diagnosis today! It has been a few years and today we found our answer. Because TS goes hand in hand with ADHD we had already considered piano. It is said to work wonders with children and that they can really improve their daily life by playing. It’s worth a try! I will be looking into it soon!

  2. Wow, a tic tamer is exactly what I am looking for! My 12 year old son is not on meds for his TS or ADHD as the side affects make things worse. For his first year in middle school, he did very well with few tics until recently. As we near the end of school, his excitement towards summer is building and his tics are off the charts. During the day, we notice playing with legos or drawing calms his tics for the brief period of the activity. However, the tics do return. Nighttime is the problem. He has trouble getting to sleep. We have tried chamomile tea and massage but wondering if anyone has similar problems with sleeping due to their tics and could offer some help. Your help is much appreciated.

  3. Krystal, have you read my posts? The first one and the recent one may be of help. You are welcome to contact me as well if needed. I think yoga would be great, but maybe doing it at home would be less stressful because of your daughters vocal tics. πŸ™‚

    • I haven’t read them, thanks for telling me about them. I will definitely spend some time reading, I just discovered this site so I am still exploring. Worries over vocal ticks during a group yoga have been the reason I haven’t tried it yet. You are probably right about at home yoga, I will look for something we can try, thanks. I really appreciate all of your help on this matter.

  4. Wow! thanks for the props on my writing, and for everyone being so helpful everyone. I agree, not all video games are bad and many can be quite good at increasing problem solving skills. I also know how difficult it can be socially for anyone with TS, heck, I am still struggling with that myself! Video games are a great way for kids to connect, I am glad your son enjoys them. I am glad you brought up gross motor as well, horseback riding is what my girl likes. Up until recently she hasn’t even presented ticks while riding, It is very therapeutic for her and i am so glad she found the sport. I am thinking of looking into a mother daughter yoga if I can find anything near us. Does anyone have any thoughts about yoga and TS? My girl is in the grips of a pretty intense verbal tick assault right now. We have been through the ringer with meds. Without sounding to desperate,(which I totally am BTW), I am willing to try anything that may help. Also any thoughts on acupuncture, L-Carnitine, or a supplement called “tick tamer”?? These are all things I have been investigating recently. Thanks!

  5. I agree. Finding specific niche things for TS kids to do that not only make them happy and occupy their time but help their tics go down is important. It’s not the same for every kid. That’s why hearing experiences like these are so cool. You get a good sample of different things to try. Thank you for posting this. I’ve read this blog for a while but never posted before.

  6. Hello, my son’s tics are not worse with video games but with his challenges in transition, it can make for a rough time when he is interrupted. Games are not all mindless and many offer lots of cognitive problem solving. In a world of social challenges, parents with a child w/ TS often do not fight kids on video games because it is something they enjoy. Depending on the severity of their disorders, it can be positive in some aspects. My son’s tics are minimal compared to others and I do limit his time. Eliminating them would make him even more different when other boys are discussing them and he cannot be apart of the conversation. As far as art work, drawing, etc. perhaps your daughter likes this, which is great for fine motor. Any type of arts/crafts in general is beneficial. My son could not focus on learning how to play the guitar and kept breaking strings so that did not work out when we tried it out so hopefully it works out better for you. My son’s flexibility, gross motor skills and confidence have benefited a great deal with martial arts. Both my kids love Kung Fu.

  7. Wow, you write very well. I can totally sense your voice here and your daughter is lucky to have you! My son, code name Stink, does not do well with video games/electronics of any kind. We are down to 3 hours/week, sometimes a bit more, and it’s all tied into his chores and such. He loves music also and I’d love him to get into performing arts. He is a major ham and personality! Tics are very low these days – thank God – but those suckers will come back. Good to focus on the stuff he is awesome at and build up the spirit, right? So happy you are blogging here!

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