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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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!
Since then, he picks his lip (problem in winter because of dryness and bleeding from it)
Thanks for this enlightening thread!
Is nail biting a tic? (no, she doesn't do that. But I did, for 41 years.)
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.
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??
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.
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.
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.