Tics, Uncategorized

Life Will Get Better: Simple Solutions for Parents of Children with Attention, Anxiety, Mood and Behavior Challenges (New book by Dr. Nicole Beurkens)

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Dr. Nicole Beurkens, founder and director of the Horizons Developmental Resource Center, has written the book I wish I had read when I was first struggling to find a pathway for treating Stink’s Tourette Syndrome.

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Let’s face it, if you’ve read this blog, you know I was overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and worry about what a Tourette’s diagnosis would entail. Would I be able to help manage my son’s tics? Would Stink be able to self-regulate? How would I work with teachers, doctors and family? How could I help with diet and exercise? Beurkens’ book answers all these questions with the brain of a doctor and the heart of a mother.

In her own words, “My philosophy is that first and foremost these are children – they are not symptoms, problems or diagnoses.” Knowing that Beurkens not only has children of her own, but a background in special education and psychology, made me trust her.

A Road Map to Special Needs

Life WILL Get Better serves as an easy-to-understand guide on how to navigate complicated behavior and emotional issues ranging from ADHD to Autism, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Bipolar and more. What makes this book so appealing is that Beurkens provides an overview with takeaways in every chapter. Just some of the items she covers in her book includes:

  • Nutrition
  • Sugar and artificial sweetners
  • Chemicals and allergens
  • Sleep
  • The importance of movement
  • How to stay calm as a parent
  • The importance of connection
  • Coping skills (for the parent and child

Helpful Anecdotes

Peppered throughout the book are anecdotes of kids (ranging from very young to out of high school) who have used Beurkens’ simple tips with great success. Just a few techniques that Beurkens suggest include, but are far from limited to:

  • Going gluten and dairy free
  • Including fatty acids into the diet
  • Taking out all food dyes and harmful additives (buh bye MSG)
  • How to get your kid to listen without nagging (from bedtime to exercise)
  • The importance of drinking more water
  • The value of meaningful connection
  • How to set limits with screen time

Beurkens’ book is not preachy in the slightest. This is what I’d consider a “starter” kit to the beginning of your child’s personal journey.

Find the Chapter That Best Suits You and Dive In!

My suggestion to you as a reader would be to find out what you relate to most and then dive deeper into that area. (Chapters are self-contained so it’s easy to skip around to topics that most relate to your situation.)

For example, at one point in the book, Beurkens discusses the connection between the gut and brain function. “In fact, the gut is now referred to as the ‘second brain’ because of how intrinsically the gut and brain communicate. The gut comprises the bulk of your immune system, and also is the location where serotonin and other important neuro chemicals are produced. The microorganisms in your gut play a critical role in your mood, behavior and cognition.” (page 16, Chapter 2)

Given that Tourettes is an immune disorder, this strikes a chord in me as I’ve been toying with the idea of a GAPS diet for quite some time. (More on GAPS later!) Because she and I are on the same page when it comes to the connection between the gut and my kid’s behavior, I felt more inclined to trust her tips in later chapters, even if these weren’t tips I’d normally have thought of myself. (Example: How to establish better bed time routines or incorporate movement into a teenagers screen time without being too tyrannical.)

Dr. Beurkens is the Real Deal

Having also spoken with Dr. Beurkens over the phone, I can personally testify to her warmth, smarts and knowledge on everything from the stress special needs can place on family dynamics to her science based approach to alternative healthcare.

If you want a book that discusses the crazy ride it can be to go from freaking out over a special needs diagnosis you weren’t expecting, read my book! If you want the correlating game plan to managing it –  a plan that does not include drinking a bottle of wine every night and picking a fight with your husband every second over going into debt over Amazon essential oils known as Tic Tamers – I’d highly recommend Dr. Nicole Beurkens’ book, Life WILL Get Better. Think of it as a trusted resource to getting a handle on what might otherwise feel like an overwhelming situation.

Dr. Beurkens is available for phone consultations. You can find out more via her website contact page.

Prescription  from Dr. Andrea

Your kids are amazing.

There is hope.

You are not alone.

  • This review was provided in exchange for a copy of Dr. Beurkens’ book

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Tics, Uncategorized

20 Ways to Reduce Tics

As many of you know, I’m all about raising a kid whose spirit outweighs a few tics. But now that my baby is, gulp, a month shy of 13, it’s become apparent yet again to take a look at management. His tics are loud. I mean, so loud and startling at times that this morning I yelled, “Holy Tic Man, take it down a notch!”

I get that he can’t help ticking. And I’m beyond happy that he’s okay with his Tourettes. (I know that many of your babies are not as comfortable with them. We deal with other issues and believe me, I get the heartbreak. You have an ally in me!)

But here’s the deal: I suffer from anxiety. I do. It’s waaaaay better now than it’s ever been, but here’s why. I don’t get to sit around all day and tell my husband through tears, “Ohhhh, I can’t work and pay the mortgage. I’m having a pity party and you’re not invited.” No. I take responsibility for my tendency to feel more neurotic than Willy Allen on 3 cups of Expresso fearful at times. I:

  • Eat well
  • Exercise
  • Take a little bit of Zoloft
  • Go to a few meetings each week
  • Talk to a therapist when I feel overwhelmed
  • Sleep well
  • Stay off of all mind alterating substances (No doobage and booze for this gal. I’ve been tempted lately, believe me, but I refrain.)
  • 2 cups of regular coffee in the morning only

The same has become true for Stink. The time has come for him to be a bit more pro-active with his vocal outbursts. If he can’t control them on his own (which apparently he can’t) we get to help him. We are the parents. We make the rules.

If you’re in that boat of wanting to suppress tics, here are some options for you.

BASICS (We’re on all of this except the dairy. That’s next.)

  1. Limit Screen time
  2. Insist on at least 30 minutes of exercise every day
  3. Limit sugar, food dyes and artificial flavors.
  4. Insist on a strong multi-vitamin
  5. Insist on a really good night sleep
  6. Get off gluten
  7. Get off dairy

MORE ADVANCED (We have the doctor and we started the magnesium. Next is the Taurine)

9. Naturopath – find one in your area that will take an integrative approach to tics. Ask him or her about supplements.

10. Supplements – Ask your naturopath about Taurine, Magnesium, a good fish oil

 SUPER INDEPTH (This is happening in January after Ticmas Christmas.)

11. Salvia Test: Complete a 23andme.com‘s genetic saliva test to see what his DNA has to show for itself. Once you know, your doctor can see what is working in his body and what is not and treat it more efficiently.

12. Finger Stick Food Allergy – Get a finger stick food allergy panel by Alletess Labs.  Cost is $120. The test kit is sent to you, you can perform it in the convenience of your home and and then ship directly to the lab. Have results sent to your doctor. Once you know what your child is allergic to, you can start eliminating offending foods.

BONUS OPTIONS

13. GAPS: The GAPS diet is very intricate, but it has stunning results. In a nutshell, it heals the stomach lining so that food no longer slips through the holes, hits the blood stream and causes brain inflammation (which can cause tics.) Personally I would not resort to this diet without knowing if your child does indeed have a leaky gut. I would work with a naturopath on this.

14. Hemp Oil: There has been much research lately about the non-habit forming part of the pot leaf providing tremendous relief (or shall we say “re-leaf” for tics and twitches. Here is a link that someone in my Twitch and Bitch provided. Her son’s tics were so bad he had to miss school. They are 90% reduced now.

15. CBT: Known as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, this technique allows a child to transfer a loud or strong tic into one that is quieter and less obvious. It requires a certified therapist to work with your child.

16. Meditation: Just 30 minutes of meditation per day can rewire neurons and calm down the dopamine that causes tics. Learning to breathe and center oneself can keep give your child an opportunity to have more control.

17. Therapy: Having your child talk to a therapist can be huge in teaching them how to advocate for themselves. It’s crucial (in my humble opinion) to have them see their part in everything. While they can’t control tics, they can control how they advocate for themselves and how they behave toward others.

18. Treat the other Conditions: Most kids with tics have other issues. Often times when one treats the ADHD or the OCD (or whatever else is present) the child is calmer and the tics become fewer.

19. Hobbies: Insist on helping them find a hobby they love: Often times when a child finds something they are passionate about, the tics become less when they are focused on it.

20. Love Them and Have Fun: That is the best tip of all. Your child might not always remember a tic free childhood, but they will hopefully remember one filled with the support of people who adored them no matter what.

me and dom

Come back this week as I’ll break down this list over the course of the next six weeks, giving more detail on each tip.

Until then, may God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

My book, Happily Ticked Off, is available on Pre-Order on Amazon. Get your copy today!

book cover

acupuncture, Tics, Tourettes, Uncategorized

Acupuncture Video #3 – Western vs. Chinese Medicine

In my third video of a series of acupuncture pieces, Martina Eberhard discusses the difference between Chinese and Western Medicine. Hint: It’s not that one doctor’s office has Fortune Cookies. Though if one did, I would make sure yours read: “Focus on you child’s gifts today!”

Happy end of weekend.

Andrea

acupuncture, Tics, Tourettes, Uncategorized

Are You Ticked Off by Negative Comments?

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My last post about my tic resolutions (what I can change, what I can’t, and having wisdom to know the difference) generated quite a bit of buzz over at The New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where my blog is syndicated. While many people 100% got my point of view, I got a couple pretty negative comments. I had a few reactions:

1. Wow, cool! I’m finally pissing people off! People are reading!

2. Ouch, ick. That stung. Poor me. Let me go cry to my friends on my “Twitch and Bitch” forum.

3. Logical schmodgical: What if I really am offensive?

#3 stuck to me for a variety of reasons. Let’s start a new list, shall we?

1. I’m not writing this blog just for me. I’m writing it for others. It’s my duty, as an “educator” to be sure I am communicating effectively.

2. There’s a fine line between being a narcissist and writing compelling, memoir-driven articles.

3. Most interesting realization of all: Insecure people, even among friends and family, will often skewer people they know as being narcissistic because of their preconceived views of who that person is and should be within the framework of their very own insecure lives. People have a much easier time extolling the virtues of “other” writers – you know, the ones with the pretty book jackets who end up on “The View” or “Huffington Post” – who already have stamps of approval by the public at large.

4. Referring to #3, once my book goes, said haters and cynics will suddenly tout me as being right all along. Yeah me!

5. As a Christian, I would be nothing more than a hypocrite to push any of this in their face, or respond to negativity with like. I must love them as Christ loves me, and if I can’t, enter Christ. For those in the #3 camp, this #5 statement makes me not only a narcissist but a self-righteous one at that.

6. This leaves me with #6: “If God is for me, who could be against me?’ Romans 8:31

I don’t just tout #6 as a fun inspirational flag-waving-attempting-to-accept-tics-and-not-ruffle-feathers-mama. I feel it. I care about people, but if people don’t like me, I don’t really care. It’s lovely living in this place! Come join me if you haven’t bought property yet. The neighbors are friendly, there’s lots of laughter and the wine is fabulous! (Being good on the wine, relax.)

I did write to Jeff Weber, New Jersey’s fearless web master, to be sure I wasn’t being offensive. He gave me the pass, so off I go to do what I do!

Acupuncture Update: In closing, Stink’s vocals are still gone. He was complaining of loose stools from the supplements he was on, so we backed it in half. Unfortunately, his head shakes came back full force. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Martina, his acupuncturist, believes he just needs to adjust to it slowly and the tics will go back down.

Martina Does Acupuncture Phone Consultations: Want a consultation on how to find an acupuncturist for your child in your area? Martina is available for phone consultations. She won’t recommend specific businesses, but she’ll get a sense of your child’s symptoms and then tell you what to look for in the right person, giving you specific acupuncture terms to use in narrowing down the right professional for your child’s needs.

Martina’s Consultant Fees: She charges $40/half hour, $60/hour. She’s versed in nutrition and supplements and can lead you in the right direction. Look soon for a new video of her treating Stink!

Martina’s In-Person Fees: Martina is in the L.A. area. Consult her directly for prices. Rates go down if you buy a packaged deal which, honestly, is recommended as she will want to start treatment 3 days/week and reduce as symptoms wane.

Martina’s Contact Info: You can find info on her at the link above. For quick reference, call her at 818-378-4157.  You can also look up her website or email her at Martina@YPIH@Gmail.com

Tell her Andrea from Happily Ticked Off referred you. I get absolutely no referal fee for this, but it does help her adjust her prices to you. (Pssst. I’m takign care of you!)

Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.

* Picture is “Woman in a Purple Coat” by Matisse. It always inspires me to live a life of purpose, joy and love. She just looks so relaxed, yet confident. I’ll take some of that, and a back scratch. Thanks!

Tics, Tourettes

Sounding Off About Vocals – A Real Term for This Irritation!

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Those of you with tics who have written to me often say that your noises bug you.

Those of you without T.S. but who live with it say the sounds can drive you batty.

I have nothing but sympathy for people with T.S. when their symptoms drive them nuts. Honestly, if my friend’s kid is ticking, doesn’t bug me in the slightest! But when it’s my kid, I really struggle.

Perhaps this is like people who have sympathy for the anxiety/neurotic/blabbermouth type. You might find me those other emotionally-inclined people funny, but if you lived with them, you might want to kick them to the closest pharmacy and insist they down a bottle of Xanax with a Zoloft chaser.

For those of you who have issues with vocals – despite feeling guilty for having such issues – I am pleased to announce you might actually have a mental disorder!

This just in from someone in my Twitch and Bitch private group: I had to share with my loyal mamas here!

You’re welcome.

Misophonia:

Misophonia, literally “hatred of sound”, is a neurological disorder in which negative experiences (anger, flight, hatred, and disgust) are triggered by specific sounds.  The sounds can be loud or soft. The term was coined by American neuroscientists Pawel Jastreboff and Margaret Jastreboff and is often used interchangeably with the term selective sound sensitivity.  Misophonia has not been classified as a discrete disorder in DSM-5 or ICD-10, but in 2013 three psychiatrists at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam formulated diagnostic criteria for it based on the largest cohort of misophonia patients so far, and suggested that it be classified as a separate psychiatric disorder.

The disorder comprises a unique set of symptoms, most likely attributable to neurological causes unrelated to hearing-system dysfunction. It can be described as an immediate and extremely negative emotional response accompanied by an automatic physiological flight response to identifiable auditory, visual, and olfactory stimuli. The disorder disrupts daily living and can have a significant impact on social interactions. A 2013 review of the most current neurological studies and fMRI studies of the brain as it relates to the disorder postulates that abnormal or dysfunctional assessment of neural signals occurs in the anterior cingulate cortex and insular cortex. These cortices are also implicated in Tourette Syndrome, and are the hub for processing anger, pain, and sensory information. Other researchers concur that the dysfunction is in central nervous system structures.  It has been speculated that the anatomical location may be more central than that involved in hyperacusis.

Symptoms:

People who have misophonia are most commonly angered, and even enraged, by common ambient sounds, such as other people clipping their nails, brushing teeth, eating crushed ice, eating, slurping, drinking, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, typing on a keyboard, whistling or coughing; saying certain consonants; or repetitive sounds.  Some are also affected by visual stimuli, such as repetitive foot or body movements, fidgeting, or movement they observe out of the corners of their eyes; this has been termed misokinesia, meaning hatred of movement. Intense anxiety and avoidant behavior may develop, which can lead to decreased socialization. Some people feel the compulsion to mimic what they hear or see. Mimicry is an automatic, non-conscious, and social phenomenon. It has a palliative aspect, making the sufferer feel better. The act of mimicry can elicit compassion and empathy, which ameliorates and lessens hostility, competition, and opposition. There is also a biological basis for how mimicry reduces the suffering from a trigger.

Prevalence and co-morbidity:

The prevalence of misophonia is unknown, but groups of people identifying with the condition suggest it is more common than previously recognized. Among patients with tinnitus, which is prevalent in 4–5% of the general population, some surveys report prevalence as high as 60%,[11] while prevalence in a 2010 study was measured at 10%.

The Dutch study published in 2013 of a sample of 42 patients with misophonia found a low incidence of psychiatric disorders, with the exception of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (52.4%).  It has been suggested that there is a connection between misophonia and synesthesia, a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.  The basic problem may be a pathological distortion of connections between various limbic structures and the auditory cortex, causing sound-emotion synesthesia. There are people with both misophonia and synesthesia, and many people with synesthesia have more than one form of synesthesia (there are over 60 reported types).  Misophonia may very well be another type of synesthesia.

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They are now doing studies to see if there is a relationship between ADD and Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome (4S).  Individuals with ADD are typically not bothered by loudness of noise – rather, the softer, repetitive, common sounds are the ones that irritate, distract, anger and sometimes send them into fight or flight mode.

Photo taken from here!
Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.
Tics, Tourettes

Tics, Faith and Believe.com

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Are you thankful for tics this Thanksgiving season? You’re not? When my son was first diagnosed, I wasn’t either. But today, from a place of experience and growth, I am happy for the character building that has come from this crazy ride.

“How is that possible?” You might ask, before reaching through the computer and throttling me with frayed nerves shot from hearing thirty minutes of throat clears on the way to morning drop off. “I’m terrified my kid is going to be made fun of. Or worse, that this condition will be harder for him than it is for me!”

I get it. I really do. And all I can offer is my own experience, which is this: Six years later, my son is totally fine. Yes, he still tics (last night his vocals were driving me a bit nutty… low gulps and clucks) but he completely embraces with who he is – not a kid with Tourettes, but a kid who creates video games, loves his sister, rocks math class, has a gaggle of geeky computer boys at our house every Friday night and, oh yeah, he tics. It’s a microcosm of who he is in the grand picture.

Yes, people ask him about his tics sometimes. And he always gives them the same answer: “Jesus made me this way.”

I never saw myself as a religious person, but from the vantage point of time, I realize just how much my faith has meant to me and how much it’s shaped my son’s worldview of himself.

I really came to believe that our God is the same yesterday, today and in the future. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

If this is true, then God does not make mistakes. Which means my son’s T.S. was not an error in the production line of human creation. “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.…” Psalm 139:13

Oh, yes, does Stink know it.

Which leads me once again back to me. How do I know God’s plan for my life? And how does this relate to Tourette Syndrome?

I know not because someone thumped me on the head with a Bible or dragged me to church. I know not because someone drowned me in holy water and made me accept the Lord to live.

I know from hitting rock bottom in my marriage and my parenting.  It was only when I took a chance that maybe, just maybe, there was something outside of my own spinning brain that was guiding my steps, that I started to heal.

It took a while, but God was patient. Turns out I didn’t have to understand it all at once. I only had to have a little bit of faith.

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20

Ironically, that passage comes from a section in the Bible where Jesus heals a boy with a demon. I have often wondered if perhaps this child did not have “evil spirits” in him but just a bad case of tics that people didn’t understand. I wish I could have been there to hug that boy’s mother and father and let them know that, “Hey, you are not alone. I get it.” (But hey, they got the Big Guy himself. They didn’t need me!)

But it’s you likely do. I definitely do. We all need each other to support and encourage us along this journey. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:20

As I begin my new job as the female voice for Believe.com, I am looking forward to sharing my faith as it relates to marriage, parenting and Tourettes. I hope you’ll visit me over there so we can all grow together. (Link to my column when it’s live in a few weeks. Meanwhile, I’m open to a lot of suggestions. I’m looking to make the content more personal, edgy and conversational, like my BabyCenter and Good Housekeeping days, except instead of talking sex and diapers we’ll be talking tics, marriage and Jesus. And who am I kidding – you know I’ll slip in some sex talk anyway. I have just discovered this Christian blogger, and wow, is she good.)

Note: Believe.com is a Christian website, but for those of you who are not Christian, you are welcome also! I’d love to learn more about your background. And of course, I’ll always write here at Happily Ticked Off – because you readers are my first love.

Until next time, hug that ticker of yours today.

Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.

Tics, Tourettes, Uncategorized

Writing the Book: Roadblock

Based on last post, you can see that there’s been a lot going on. Madness is not exactly conducive to sitting down and writing a book. And yet, I can type away here at Happily Ticked Off.

And writers write.

So what’s my problem?

Part of it is that writing about something in a structure format is different from spewing out my crazy ramblings offering up a quick blog post.

A bigger issue for me, though, is the increase in my kid’s tics.

It’s not that I’m so sad that I can’t form a sentence. It’s that I don’t know what sentence to write to finish the book.

Truth be told, I had really hoped this Ticnoir would have a dramatic story but a shiny happy ending: “Here’s where my life fell apart post-diagnosis… here’s where my marriage hit the skids… here is where my two big writing gigs went away… but here’s where Rex and I fall back in love and I’m content with motherhood and my $42.51/month on Ebay and all Stink’s tics are gone! Woo hoo!”

After a few years dealing with T.S., I had no real illusions that there would be a magic bullet for tics. But after all the diet and all the supplements. After all the good sleeping and trying out meds… I certainly didn’t think the tics would be worse.

And yet, they are.

And for the end of a book, that totally blows.

It’s like going to a movie about a woman who loses her high paying job and then has a hard time making her mortgage. She has a hard time feeding her kids and her husband gets sick with MS.

But then, a la It’s A Wonderful Life, the community pitches in. In the last scene of the movie she gets a ton of cash from her church and some fat kid gives her the last nickel in his piggy back. This woman not only saves her house, but has enough funding left over to re-do her kitchen. Her husband was misdiagnosed and her kids have more organic food than they know what to with! There are cheers and shouts and tears of joy! But then, in the last scene, some thug socks her over the head on the subway and steals her huge wad of cash. Her husband gets squashed by a Gremlin and she and her kids go homeless, eating 99 Cent store Mac N Cheese forever. The End.

Who wants that kind of ending? And really, if you’re going to get hit by car, wouldn’t you rather get hit by a Porsche?

I suppose, in a way, this is my apology to you: Sorry, suckers. I couldn’t fix your kid’s T.S.. You can stop reading now.

But again, and I mean this (waaaay deep down): Enter whisper: “If you can’t fix the tics… fix yourself.”

I’m trying.

I really am.

And for what it’s worth, I’m supporting you along your way.

The Bottom Line

Does everything we do to help our kids through diet and healthy choices and meds (if needed) help? Yes. I do believe it does. I believe it could be far worse without it.

The Truth

Ten years old is hard for any kid – especially kids with tics. But this is a season.

Even Better

I’m not in the emotional toilet. As I tell my blog friend, Margaret, “I am not in the bell jar.” Ring ring ring the bell! Maybe that’s the happy ending. That I’m learning to roll with life and never give up. I’m learning to… enter my other theme, “Accept the tics I cannot change, change the tics I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

Hang tight, all!

* Photo of me and Topanga T when I was 4 sent by my cousin, D D. Little did I know, at that innocent age, what a ride life would be. But maybe I had the right idea back then. When times get tough, get dancing.