The more I read about giftedness, the more I see tics mentioned. This gives me some relief as dd has some facial tics and some days they are worse than others.
If your child also experiences this would you mind sharing?
I don't have any children yet, but maybe my experience could help. I was a gifted child, and I've been learning a lot about some of the strange things I went through in my youth, by reading links moms have posted here. It's been a real eye-opener.
Anyways, my mother says that when I was a little baby, sleeping in a crib, I had facial tics. I think she said that I used to schrunch
my nose, and also kind of obsessively graze my blanket across my face. I think she said it was like I was obsessively smelling it? The good news is, those seemed to go away. I don't think I had any tics as a toddler or young kid. Then I remember getting the urge to schrunch together my eyebrows (kind of like furrowing your brow, but repeatedly), when I was probably 13 or 14. That was a phase and went away too, and was never so bad that it was super-embarrassing. It would come and go.
I think tics are also somehow related to OCD (like they are linked on a gene, etc ). When I was 4/5 y.o., I had full-blown OCD, so watch out for signs of that in your child too. OCD is also much more common in people with high IQ, so I have read. Like the tics, it tended to surface, then go away on it's own, then come back later in life, though most of the time, it's in a very mild state (but it has flared). Right now, I am only dealing with minor OCD symptoms that I don't feel I need medication for. And I haven't had tics since probably middle school (so it's been well over 10 years).
This is considered not necessarily mainstream, but I don't rule out it the whole PANDAS thing. It's basically saying that strep or another infection in the brain causes these symptoms. You could try a trial run of antibiotics, if you feel it's appropriate. However, I don't think longterm antibiotics are that great of an idea.
If I had my guess, I'd give equal credibility to the theory that it's just genetics, perhaps activated by something we can't control.....and equal credibility to the theory that these symptoms can be treated with the PANDAS model (though don't get sucked into antibiotics longterm, my two cents). Just trying to keep you aware of all the different viewpoints here. I took longterm antibiotics for something else, and it's hard to tell if my OCD was helped by the antibiotics.
From my perspective, it seems like a lot of psych issues are related to giftedness, and tics seem to be lumped in that category too, because my understanding is that the tic itself originates in the brain....and isn't like a muscle twitch.
I guess it depends how long the tics have been there with your little one. I can't imagine my phases with tics lasted any longer than a year each time, and it never was that huge of a deal for me.
Ds has 'tics' or 'stims', I'm not quite sure. He's got sensory issues and I think they're related somehow, perhaps. They come and go. They were really bad when he was 7, and have calmed down a bit now. I actually made a video to show to a developmental psychologist when we had ds assessed at 7 (T's tics). They seem to happen more often in the spring/summer and then calm down in the winter. He's moved from putting his hands in front of his eyes (shown in the video) to clicking his jaw (he'll kind of open his mouth and then click it back -- hard to describe). Some days he'll do it a lot, and others not at all (or so little I can't see it.) He seems largely unaware of these and can control them if he thinks about it, but doesn't usually. So far, it has embarrassed him and has causes minimal disruption, so our strategy is to ignore it.
He also has episodes of hair twisting, where he does it so much that sometimes he'll create a bald patch. Again, that's much worse in the spring/summer. He usually does it while he's reading or distracted, so it's not conscious. It's bordering on trichotillomania, but hasn't gotten bad enough to need treatment.
Because of the seasonal aspect of it, I'm going to have him checked for allergies if it starts getting bad in the spring.
DS has tics. He twirls the hair at the top of his head, and sometimes flaps his hands a little. When he was younger, he used to chew on his shirt collar or sleeve (drove me nuts!) It's always something though. I don't know how gifted he is ~ he's definitely "smart" and a little "quirky", but he has not been tested.
My son had a bad stutter until he was 3 almost 4. Literally one day it stopped and tics started. I am not sure if tics are the right name but it will be licking his lip a certain way or grabbing his crotch a certain way or making a weird noise over and over or.... you get the drift. I don't think he realizes it and when we get him to stop he just starts something else. I would love to hear about others and how they deal with it. He is in school for the first time this year and he is in full day Kindergarten. The only tic he has had all year is licking. Mainly it is his lips but he will lick lots of strange things as well. It isn't a problem at school and he is doing great at school.
Chewing shirts, fingers and hair - check. Running thumb along face, again and again. Stuttering. Rubbing fingers together. Whistling - repeatedly and for long periods.
All these come and go. They don't mean he is under stress. The stress ones are weirder - rubbing my body for example. These are just filling in the "doodling" spaces when he can't doodle.
Lisa, if you have any other information I'd love it. When did they decide to formally diagnose? DS has had vocal tics (on and off) since before he was 4. The last time we really discussed them with a doctor (spring 2009) we were reassured because he had never had physical tics which they said would make a Tourettes diagnosis more likely (to have *both* verbal & physical tics). Unfortunately, this year we have seen some physical tics showing up (blinking) but they didn't stay very long (weeks rather than months/years). We'll obviously discuss it with his doctor when we go in next, if you have some words of wisdom, though, I'd appreciate it!
Sure... A TS diagnosis requires both motor and vocal tics. They don't have to be present at the same time, and the tics do wax and wane (they often come and go without any rhyme or reason). Stress and excitement can exacerbate the tics. The tics must be present for at least a year, though there may be tic-free periods (not exceeding three months). The Tourette Syndrome Association has a huge amount of helpful information.
My dd was seeing a psychologist for an animal phobia, and he noticed some tics at the same time that our dd's gymnastics coach did (though the coach didn't know that's what they were). The psychologist offered to run us through the diagnostic criteria for TS, and we had him do that. After that, we went to a specialist just to confirm (and also to establish care--it takes months to get a first appointment with a TS specialist).
I did a lot of research on TS when we first realized that's what was going on with DD... It's typical course is to appear between 6 and 10. The tics will typically get worse (in frequency and duration) up through puberty (though even then there may be tic-free periods). After that, they decline for most people. There are a number of drug treatments, but all of them have pretty horrendous side effects. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful. At the moment, we aren't pursuing any treatment at all. DD's tics are more annoying than anything else (according to her), and they haven't interfered with what she wants to do yet.
As another poster mentioned (I think), obsessive compulsive disorder is closely related to TS, so it's a good idea to know about that (to see if you detect any early indications of OCD before it gets too bad). OCD is more commonly observed in females than in males, though.
TS is a neurological condition with a strong genetic component. You may want to ask around in your families to see if any relatives had tics (or odd behaviors) when they were children. We realized that my husband has TS, though his tics were attributed to a food allergy when he was a kid.
My toddler is screaming at me to come out, so I'll stop there. I'd be happy to chat more if you want to talk more on this thread (or you can PM me). I hope that this helps a little!