Do any of your kids have stress related tics? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 03-22-2008, 11:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't figure my oldest out sometimes (he's almost 7 yrs old, btw). He's so bright and creative and driven and exuberant. I can't ever remember him complaining of being bored because he constantly entertains himself (and his brother). He's confident and happy. He's gentle and kind. He's a really happy kid with a great attitude towards life....And he tends to have anxiety sometimes. He's VERY sensitive, both physically (noises, sensations, tastes, smells) and emotionally (big life issues).

A lot of times, we can talk through things he's anxious about. He's not anxious most of the time. But I guess I've learned to anticipate things that will upset him. When he was afraid of Halloween decorations the last few years, we simply avoided them. We try to talk about his fears but I don't push him. In general, while he has his quirky things he's afraid of, he's the kind of kid who is willing to try almost anything. He is so enthusiastic.

Sometimes, he has these tics, like maybe making an annoying clicking sound. But the most common tic he's had, which he has now, is blinking. 90% of the time, he doesn't have tics. But over the years, they come out from time to time and then abruptly go away. Right now, he constantly blinks to the point where everyone in the world notices it. When I look at him, all I can think of is stress. He must feel stressed on some level. It really bothers me, because I have OCD and I worry that he will have it too. Maybe he has it right now and that's what the blinking means. I gave him anxiety genes.

Anyway, do you deal with this sort of thing with your bright or gifted child? And do you have any advice for me, books to read, BTDT, etc?
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#2 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 12:09 AM
 
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Yes! My ds just turned 7 and he tics sometimes. Like your son, he is also very bright and gifted, yet he's anxious and stresses. I suffer from anxiety and I think I passed along the anxiety gene to him

He is sensitive to noise, tastes and can even be visually sensitive (he can't stand to watch his sister brush her teeth) and he can't seem to easily deal with life's curve balls. We are always able to walk/talk him through things but it breaks my heart that he struggles.

He started ticcing right before he turned 6. His first tic was throat clearing. I would hear him do it off and on and I chalked it up to allergies. A couple months into the throat clearing, he started blinking. He was blinking all.the.time. Everyone noticed. Friends and family were asking what was wrong with his eyes.

At that point, I panicked and took him to see a Pediatric Neurologist. I had convinced myself through reading online that he had Tourette Syndrome. He explained that the tics need to be motor AND vocal and last over a year to be considered Tourette's. He also explained that it's very common for children (especially boys) to have transient tics at some point, but those do not usually last for more than a year. I have read that transient tics can come and go for years and while it's not considered TS, the difference is transient tics take a longer break. For doctors to diagnose someone with TS, that person should never have a tic-free period longer than 3 months.

I have read through my countless hours of reading that gifted children are more likely to tic. I think they do stress a bit more than average.

We did find out our son suffered IgG allergies to gluten and casein and once on a gf/cf diet, his tics have decreased, even under anxiety. I have no clue what it will be like when we come off the diet. Who knows if the decrease in tics is even diet related?

I did start giving him Natural Calm at bedtime, since I read that extra magnesium helps them relax. Epsom salt baths are great too if he seems stressed!

I just wanted to let you know your not alone!
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#3 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 12:12 AM
 
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P.S.

There is a terrific book out there that has helped me tremendously understand my ds tics.

Sheila Rogers-- "Tics and Tourette’s: Breakthrough Discoveries in Natural Treatments"
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#4 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 12:15 AM
 
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Yep, mine has anxiety tics. He does this thing with his fingers that I can't describe, let alone imitate. It's a compulsive thing and it comes out terribly during periods of stress. I also tend to be anxious, and now we both take L-Theanine with decaffeinated green tea. It helps us both a lot. He still tics, but it's less frequent, and other behaviors that I deem far more obnoxious and socially inept--like talking out, brash interruptions, attention-seeking behaviors--decrease significantly.
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#5 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 01:02 AM
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Yes, my dd has a throat-clearing tic.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#6 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OMG, THANK YOU. Thank you SO much. I was hesitant to post this but now I'm glad I did. It does make me feel like it's not just us. I'm going to read more about transient tics. I haven't thought to mark down dates but I'm sure the blinking lasts less than 3 months.

The first time I ever remember him blinking was at a Chuck E Cheese birthday party when he was 4. He was pretty overstimulated by all the chaos and lighting. And then, he was afraid of the big ChuckE person in the mouse suit. He blinked continuously but then it seemed to go away. Over the years, we've noticed he does it but I've never been able to find a pattern with it. It seems intense while it's going on but I don't think it last more than maybe 2 months. Right now, we're going through a big move. We sold our house and moved into a small apartment; we'll be moving into our new house soon. He probably doesn't play outside as much as before and I know he misses being able to spread out with all his stuff.

I'll still mention it to my doctor at the 7 year appointment, but I feel so much better about it now. I think he's just prone to anxiety and while it's not like I did it on purpose, I know it came from me. It's kind of perverse. The thing that makes a person's brain so sensitive to learning is the same thing that makes it so sensitive to *everything* else...it's a mixed blessing, to be sure. It could be worse, but still...
It's hard sometimes.

Anyway, THANK YOU again.
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#7 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 11:37 AM
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Have you tried good sunglasses (perhaps even indoors sometimes)? Excessive blinking can sometimes be a light-sensitivity issue.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#8 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 12:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by A&A View Post
Have you tried good sunglasses (perhaps even indoors sometimes)? Excessive blinking can sometimes be a light-sensitivity issue.
We tried that last year during my son's eye blinking. It didn't seem to help but certainly doesn't hurt! We tend to wear sunglasses here anyway in Florida!
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#9 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 12:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LeftField View Post
The thing that makes a person's brain so sensitive to learning is the same thing that makes it so sensitive to *everything* else...it's a mixed blessing, to be sure. It could be worse, but still...
It's hard sometimes.
:
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#10 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 03:13 PM
 
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Hi mama

Blinking is the classic first tic in Tourette's, my first tic was a clicking sound I made with my tongue on the roof of my mouth.

Tics aren't caused by stress, imho, but are a way of throwing off stress, to expel it in many different ways. So, while I tic all the time, I tic most often when I'm stressed out, because there's more going on for my brain to deal with and therefore more neural activity to get mixed in with the ticcing.
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#11 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 05:20 PM
 
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I agree Ali- I don't think tics are caused by stress but I think that some kids tic from stress. Does that make sense? Its hard to explain, but I guess what I'm trying to say is I know my son has transient tics that come & go, but they are basically non-existent unless he eats the wrong foods or is under major stress. So I don't know what to make of it, lol.

I know there must be a reason the tics are there to begin with. Whether it's a food/brain allergy or vaccine damage. I just know tics and Tourette's do not run in either side of our family that we know of so there's no link there.

My ds will go lengths of time and not tic at all, so I'm just thankful it's mild.
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#12 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 06:12 PM
 
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Yes, my 7 year old son has tics. They come and go. And there are new ones every once in a while. We've had the eye-blinking. Lip-licking. Neck rolling. And more. I've posted about this extensively in the Special Needs forum. Look it up there...the thread became quite lengthy and many of the same posters responded there as have already posted here. Maybe I will see if I can find and link it. You are SO not alone!
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#13 of 29 Old 03-23-2008, 06:17 PM
 
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http://www.mothering.com/discussions...highlight=tics

This should be a link to the thread I started a while back. See if it works, and if it helps at all.
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#14 of 29 Old 03-25-2008, 10:43 PM
 
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Yes, yes,yes. Right now the main one is this finger rubbing thing. Unfortunately when I am reading to him somehow he always gets his fingers near my ear -yeekikes!! They come and go, coming more frequently when stressed.
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#15 of 29 Old 03-28-2008, 04:56 AM
 
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Oh my gosh. My ds has these too! He went through an eye blinking phase and we thought he might have allergies. The pediatrician said it was probably a behavioral thing and we should just not mention it and eventually it would stop. And it did, thankfully. But when pp mentioned it, I remembered that he also had the throat-clearing thing. He was doing it all the time when we were at the relatives' house for Christmas. Somehow that stopped on its own, too.

Right now he is wiping his mouth with his sleeve all the time. He definitely does it more when stressed or excited. By the end of the day, his poor cheeks are bright pink and his lips are all chapped.
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#16 of 29 Old 03-28-2008, 02:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by A&A View Post
Yes, my dd has a throat-clearing tic.
Interesting. DS does this as well and it DRIVES ME CRAZY. According to our pediatrician it should clear up in 6-12 months but you never know.

When DS was younger he always talked very squeaky. Found out he was really messing up his vocal cords doing that and he went to speach therapy. Now he has this throat clearing thing

DD picks at her lips, but I'm hoping that will clear up after winter.

 

 

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#17 of 29 Old 03-28-2008, 05:53 PM
 
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Just checking in here. My 5.5 year old daughter still sucks her thumb and twirls her hair. I believe I will let her alone about it. If I thought she would drop that and take up with a noise-making tic, well, it makes ME tic just thinking about it!
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#18 of 29 Old 03-29-2008, 05:05 PM
 
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I totally agree with Tatoomom. DS1 had eye-blinking and hand-clenching tics from the end of my pregnancy with his younger brother until a few months later. There were a number of other stressors going on at that time as well. I think the anxiety built up and his body had to throw it off somehow -- and it came out as tics. They've come back intermittingly during times of stress or extended anxiety. They will also come out when he's overtired. Enough sleep plays a big role in keeping them in check.

Transient tics occur in something like 10-15% of all children at some time or another during childhood, often connected with a period of increased stress or anxiety. Most kids usually grow out of them by age 10 (and I think I remember that the most common "start" age is something around 7 years old). Boys are more often afflicted, as are kids with "neuro" differences. I think gifted qualifies as neurodifferentiated.

The best advice I got was to just ignore the behavior and not draw attention to it. In our case this was fine except when H was clenching his hands when he really needed to have them open. Then we would just gently ask him to open his hand. (This is the tic that reappears most frequently around here.)

Try not to stress about it. Take note of when it happens and for how long, but try not to worry about it. Maybe try to find a way to help your ds relax or throw off the stress in some other way (yoga, meditation, or something very physical). H responded well to wrestling with us (where we got down and dirty with him and let him win after a good struggle).
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#19 of 29 Old 03-29-2008, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Again, thank you so much!! I smiled when I saw there were more replies. I really appreciate it. Teachma, thank you for the helpful link!

We've recently been on vacation (and have had visiting family with us) and we've all noticed that ds's blinking has *dramatically* decreased. He does still do it and I still plan to talk to our ped about it. But the fact that the blinking significantly decreased during a fun week makes me feel better. And it makes me think that it is caused by stress because we've noticed that pattern in the past and this latest development seems to confirm that.

It could definitely be one of those transient tics. Or I still have OCD in the back of my mind. Either way, I just feel better about the whole thing. I really appreciate your replies so much! Thank you!
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#20 of 29 Old 04-01-2008, 12:29 AM
 
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My son chewed on his collar and sleeves when he was in preschool, now he has a lip-licking tic. For a brief amount of time he had a grimacing tic, which was actually the least damaging one, but stood out the most as a recognizable tic.

He is allowed to chew gum at school and keeps aquafor at his desk.

I don't think he is stressed or anxious. He has a lot of mental and physical energy, and he can't always let it out. Maybe that is a type of stress, but he is not "overburdened", IMO. He's a pretty happy go lucky guy, and usually oblivious to what is expected of him.

His tics go down in the summer, when we can be outside more.

L.
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#21 of 29 Old 04-04-2008, 10:56 PM
 
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I've been out of town, sorry for my delayed response.

My 11 year old DD has had one tic or another since she was about 5. She's done throat clearing, eye blinking, some weird smile thing, shoulder shrugging, a head shake (this one freaked me out), and is currently on a sniffing thing. They come and go, sometimes gone for months at a time and they usually last a month or so before they go away or change into something else. They intensify during times of stress or discomfort with surroundings. The tics will also disappear during times of physical activity, but resume as soon as she's finished. ex: she was doing the head twitch thing very frequently during the time she was to take her tae kwon do black belt test. The testing was insanely stressful, more so than a typical one due to many reasons. Her head was shaking so much I thought it was going to fall off up until she started the testing. Once she started moving, the head stopped twitching.

With the head shake that freaked me out so bad I took her to the ped. to get some advice. His opinion was that it was her way of releasing stress and is directly related to her intesnseness (is that a word?), her giftedness, and her tendency to bottle her emotions all combined. He said that we could have neurological tests to rule out a medical issue, but that he didn't recommend it until after puberty. Apparently most tics will disappear after puberty so long as it isn't neurological.

We don't point them out to her, there's no point in it. She's homeschooled so doesn't really have to deal with mean comments. We're just riding it out for another year or so and go from there.

Anyhow, no...you aren't alone.
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#22 of 29 Old 04-05-2008, 05:20 PM
 
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Our oldest son does this and has since he was 3. We just went through the whole round of Pediatric Neurologist tests (hence, the gifted diagnosis) and found out that his various tics (they change over time) are caused by anxiety. He said that a lot of gifted kids are anxious and often their tics are things they do to "self-soothe" themselves. His first tic was pinching his nipples (yikes!) which became a big issue during the summer in public. He's mostly over it, but we finally had to be firm and demand he NOT do it because it was just downright skeevy and not appropriate in public. Since then, he picks his lip (problem in winter because of dryness and bleeding from it), pulls his shirt cuff and chews his coat collar and shirts. It's like having a goat!

One of the previous posters mentioned learning your child's stressors, which is a great idea! We talk about things ahead of time and set expectations with our son, since he hates transition and loves routine. We tell him what will happen, when, how and why and it's helped a lot. I wouldn't worry about "passing on" anxiety--gifted kids just seem to have it. It's hard for them, since they know they're "different" from their peers and try to fit in, and it's stressful for the little guys. Just know that you're not alone with the tic thing!
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#23 of 29 Old 04-05-2008, 09:14 PM
 
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Since then, he picks his lip (problem in winter because of dryness and bleeding from it)
Dd1 does this too! She also picks at the edge of her nose. We went to a birthday party today and she was doing it constantly! I didn't realize that these are tics and didn't make the connection to her doing them when she's feeling anxious, like in social situations.

Thanks for this enlightening thread!

Mama to dds, Juju(7) and Bea(4)
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#24 of 29 Old 04-06-2008, 04:10 PM
 
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Slightly OT? Can a very young child pinch (not herself - me and dh!) as a stress reducer? DD doesn't seem stressed. She's only 16 months. She is very happy, but also intense, and can get really upset if she doesn't get her way. She knows not to pinch, but she keeps doing it. Never in the early morning, seems to get worse in the afternoon or evening. Not sure what is triggering it though. Boredom or frustration? Come in waves - she will do it for 5 min, then stop, then do it an hour or two later for another few minutes. Maybe it is just a normal toddler thing?

Is nail biting a tic? (no, she doesn't do that. But I did, for 41 years.)
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#25 of 29 Old 04-13-2008, 04:29 PM
 
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My dd is 4.5 and has had probably a dozen or so tics (both motor and vocal) over the past 8 months. In retrospect, she might have even had a few well before then only we didn't realize they were "tics"--things like toe curling, finger twisting, hair-holding....I understand, first-hand, how upsetting this can be!

When they first started in ernest this year they were an imitative behavior; she was copying an autistic boy she plays with, but they soon transformed into her own tics: eye blinking/rolling, repetitive hand movements, snorts, sniffs, strange mouth/smile smirks..you get the picture. Each one lasts a few weeks and then changes. When the tongue trusting, neck twisting came I broke down and cried for a good three days after my Google searches turned up Touretts websites.

I was reluctant to bring her to the children's hospital for a neurologic evaluation (her ped. suggested this if we wanted a diagnosis, although she felt confident it wasn't anything "serious") because I didn't want to draw a lot of attention to the tics and/or have dd think we thought they were a "problem." Instead, we started giving her the Kid's Calm magnesium supplement (1/2 teaspoon/day) and brought her to a psyciatric-neurologist who deals primarily with homeopathy.

Two months of the Kid's Calm and her tics have significantly decreased although she still engages in some form of ticking at least once a day(usually while eating--anyone else????)

We've worked through 2 homeopathic remedies (Carcinosin and lycopodium) so far and each only seemed to make the tics worse after the second day. Since the two remedies, she did have one tic free day! We're trying Nux Vomonica next. I'm not sure how I feel about the homeopathy--but I'm willing to try it. The neurologist said he felt she was probably a "conduit for the collective unconscious," she is very sensitive and sometimes we think she just "knows" more than she could possibly "know"--and that all this energy is hard to deal with so the tics are a discharge of excess energy/stress/emotion...not too sure what I think about this either, but again, I'm willing to see where it goes. BTW, this Dr. isn't at all a woo-woo new Age freaky dude. We waited 4 months for our appointment because he is so respected.

The other things that have helped are eliminating food coloring and other additives and simply not paying any attention to the tics--and by this I mean that when I was taking notes (even without her knowing), they seemed worse. Florescent lights (Target or supermarket) really set her off. We took her to her first movie a few weeks ago (Horton Hears a Who) and while she didn't tic in the theater, as soon as we were in the car they were worse than they'd been in months, but it only lasted 1/2 an hour.

AND I've had to simply accept that we are ALL freaks in one way or another! Perhaps our decision (even before this all started) to homeschool helps because I'm not as worried about her being teased.

I'm thankful for your post and I really look forward to reading about the rest of you experiencing similar things---I especially hope that Alima will relate some more of her own experiences.
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#26 of 29 Old 01-08-2014, 10:03 PM
 
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I am so glad to read all of your comments. My 7 yr. old seems to be extremely stressed out and I'm pretty sure he has anxiety.  He lashes out when he is frustrated and hates it when people don't understand what he's talking about, when he feels misunderstood.  He gets so worked up that his veins pop out from his neck, he flops on the floor and yells his words.  He is so sweet and kind and sensitive on the one hand, but angry on the other.  He also has a hard time focusing.  We heard about a supplement called LTO3 that is supposed to work great for attention issues, as well as relaxing anxiety, etc.  We tried it on him and it seemed to work really well.  However, a day after we started him on it, he started up with these tics again.  There was a 2 month break in between them.  He looks side to side with just his eyeballs...a lot!  He also does a jaw thrust, tightening thing, clears his throat, and breaths very strangely through his throat/nose, like a darth vador type of thing.  I am wondering if anyone has tried a supplement with L-Theanine in it and then noticed weird tics afterwards??  

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#27 of 29 Old 01-09-2014, 10:08 AM
 
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we've used kids calm multi for anxiety/attention/ etc... it seems to have reduced the tics... but we also changed learning environments (changed schools) and this seems to have reduced the stress and tics ... and "attention" problems, too... (which was most likely under-stimulation plus anxiety provoking environment.  


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#28 of 29 Old 01-10-2014, 07:44 AM
 
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My DS7 went through a blinking stage and a throat clearing stage. He also has mild to moderate anxiety. The tics went away, then came back, then went away. It's called a transient tics, and it's most likely not a worry. The exception, of course, is if the tics are accompanied by some out of "norm" behavioral problems, or if the tics become more pronounced and frequent. 

 

I don't call attention to the tics- in our case it made them worse. Likely, the tics will go away on their own, but don't be surprised if it crops up again. 

 

Anxiety in kids should be monitored- if it has an impact on your child's functioning or family functioning, it may be time to talk with someone. 

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#29 of 29 Old 01-10-2014, 09:51 AM
 
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My 5yo has motor tics that come and go. Usually one goes on intermittently for months, and then stops and is replaced by another one. For example; jaw thrusting, touching her face in a pattern, swallowing, sniffing.
She also has a few verbal ones. The one right now is, "Are you 500?"

We're under the care of our beloved and very trusted pediatrician with regards to her anxiety and tics, and have been since she was three.
He assures us that while tics are not typical, they are within the range of normal.
He also says that most children grow out of them, and that there is no point in trying to get the child to stop the action unless it is harmful to themselves or others.

Our pediatrician also says that there are several commonly found groupings of symptoms/behaviours in children, and that's why we see lots of children diagnosed with ADHD (one set of symptoms/behaviours), or ODD (another set of symptoms/behaviours), or disordered eating in teen girls (another set of symptoms/behaviours).

He said all of this to preface what he ultimately had to say about DD and her particular 'set' of symptoms/behaviours: anxious, sensory issues, tics, exceptionally bright.
He says that's just another collection of symptoms/behaviours that is quite commonly seen together, and that often those children grow out of the troubling aspects and into their intellect, and that when it comes to suffering from a constellation of symptoms/behaviours, this is quite benign compared to most.

Nonetheless, it's troubling to me that she has tics, mostly because I can see that it sets her further apart from her peers, when she is already different enough based on her innate quirkiness and the fact that she'd rather read than roll around in a field.

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
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