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7 Things to Help Reduce Tics!

7 TIPS

Before my book came out I was blogging pretty regularly for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome. One of the posts that garnered 61 comments was on Five Things that Can Help With Tics.

A few years later, and with more research, I have decided to update the list a bit for new parents who keep writing me with the same question.

Question: How do I fix the tics?

Answer: There is no one-size-fits all answer. Every child is different.

What Can You Do If You’re Freaking Out About Tics? 

I’m no doctor, but after 10 years at this I can passionately state that all kids tic for a variety of reasons. I, personally , didn’t feel medication was the answer right off the bat for my son. It still isn’t. If it got severe enough, of course I would consider it, but so far it has not.

Here’s what I tell all parents who write me with concerns over their ticking kids. I tell them to ask a few important questions – the same ones I asked myself.

Questions to Ask if Your Child is Ticking

  • Could there be vitamin deficiencies happening?
  • What kind of environmental stressors could be worked on? (Less tension at home, less electronics?, etc.)
  • How much sleep is your child getting?
  • What kind of exercise is your child getting?
  • What does your child’s diet consist of?

It’s Up To You!

None of these questions are meant to either shame or suggest there are simple answers for complicated tic issues. Again, each child is different. My suggestion is to go to a naturopath and have your child evaluated for his/her individual condition. If you are low on funds (which I was) you can start with the basics and see if this helps. It helped in our case and I hope it helps in yours!

supplements

5 Things to Help With Tics

  1. Magnesium: I gave my son 500 mg of magnesium a day, and it really helped with his eye rolls and vocals. For some little kids this might be too much, but I’ve been told the worst thing excess magnesium can do is cause diarrhea. Now my son takes a calcium/magnesium supplement as the magnesium is best absorbed with calcium. The ratio is double the calcium to the magnesium.
  2. Gluten Free: It was a pain, but it helped, and continues to help enormously. He can concentrate more and can fall asleep quickly. When he was not gluten free, it would take hours for him to settle down. He is still a high energy kid, but much less so now.
  3. Dairy Free: Ditto the gluten. It was a pain, but we’ve found many ways to supplement his calcium through rice milk, vegetables and fruit.
  4. Sleep: 10 hours of sleep a night is crucial and a huge tic reducer.
  5. No artificial flavors or preservatives: My son is very sensitive to chemicals. They can set tics off like bee around a honey pot. Not worth the sting of excess tics except on special occasions.

2 Other Supplements * Talk to you Naturopath first * 

6. NAC  – Standing for N-Acetylcysteine, this is an amino acid that can be purchased at any vitamin store. This natural supplement acts as an antioxidant and glutamate modulating agent.

According to this webinar, featuring Dr. Mark Mintz, “They (a study) found the N-acetyl cysteine decreased symptoms of trichotillomania (hair pulling) compared to placebo. It makes theoretical sense as NAC can modulate dopamine. So, there are reports that NAC can improve mood disorders as well (such as obsessive compulsive disorder). There needs to be more research and reports to have a better handle on the effects of NAC in Tourette, but it appears to show some promise.”

7. Taurine – I talk about Taurine here. My son is currently on 500 MG but I think he could use 1000. That said, I will talk to my naturopath first!

What have been your experiences with tics? Did any of you find it made a difference for your children? What about in some of your cases where tics were more severe? Would love to hear!

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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Tip #2 to Limit Tics: Exercise

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I won’t lie. My kid like to exercise as much as the Kardashian girls like to wear clothing. But never the less, it’s needed. I have no grand illusion that exercise is going to rid my kid of any particular vocal or physical tic, but it absolutely makes a difference in his mental energy.

And mine.

For the past nine months he’s taken a tennis class at the local park. It’s once a week only but there’s nothing more hilarious than watching a bunch of tween nerdy boys running around the court banging balls at each others’heads. I mean… it’s excellent exercise and great at controlling Dopamine production!

Every day but Fridays we walk to school. It’s as much about talking as it is about the walking. Given he’s now 13 (oy, can’t believe it) I’ll take all the bonding time I can get.

A few weeks ago, after our local city holiday parade, my daughter stayed with my husband to do some cleanup for the Kiwanis club. My son and I walked the whole three miles home. Despite some pretty steady vocal tics on his part, it was hard for me to worry about it or be frustrated. The sights of the floats, the sounds of Christmas music blaring through the radios of the viewers, the many dogs and babies waddling through the crowd… it made me happy to be alive.

Him: “Mom, I really want a new Nintendo DS for Christmas.”

Me: “Why? You already have a computer and a tablet.”

Him: “You already have a bunch of coffee cups, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy another one, right?”

Me: “Yes, but my hobby is a lot less expensive than yours.”

Him: “True, dat. But come on, Mom, don’t you ever want something just because it’s awesome and fun and you can’t wait to get your hands around it?”

Me: I wanted to shout, “Yes, it’s called you! Stop growing so fast!” Instead I went with, “Yeah. Yeah I have.”

And then he slipped his hand in mine. For the next mile we walked side by side, our fingers entwined. With his head at my shoulder, I can already tell he’ll surpass me by summer. I took it in… every step… and thanked God for him. For the walks. For everything.

And right there I made a commitment to have joy and gratitude in 2016 no matter what. So far, I haven’t missed a day of good old fashioned positive thinking. That’s exercise I could get used to.

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PS: And as life would have it – the moment I decided to stop living in my comfort zone (fear and worry) the tics went away. The reason? Jesus appeared in my morning Yuban and blessed me with the Holy Spirit of Tourette Syndrome TAURINE. More later. (Tics down from even last post!)

Until next time, May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

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

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Deceptively Delicious: Supplements in Food for Tics

sneaky mom

As you know from my last post, my kid refuses to take supplements for his tics, those specific supplements for now being Magnesium Citrate and Taurine.

Four days ago I was fine with that. He’s confidant! God loves him! Hooray! Guess what? Mama loves him too and she’s not happy about it at all.

It’s not just the sounds that are of concern to me. With them come a hyper-activity that is going to cause more harm than good when his father and I decide to kick him out of the house. It’s OVER THE TOP.

Who’s the Parent Here?

There is a fine line between letting a kid be confidant and taking control as a parent. And that fine line, my friends, is coming into play with diet.

Mom the Sneaky Chef

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I am putting some supplements in his food. This morning, he had rice, meat, veggies and a topping of salsa Taurine! It was “delicious” according to my ticking preacher. I am grateful that he was none the wiser and I feel better that in a few days we’ll hopefully (God willing) have a reduction in tics.

Mama Guilt Sneaks in the Back End

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I feel a wee bit bad about this, honestly. It feels a little con-artisty. That’s because it is. And maybe that’s okay.

When our kids were toddlers, did we ask them if it was okay with them that we mash bananas into their cup? Did Jessica Seinfeld ask permission from her kids to blend veggies into their pasta sauce? No. (And she made a crap load of cash off it, also! I really should ditch my spouse for a movie star. Having an affair with Hugh Jackman would not only cure Tourettes but it could quite possibly get me a cookbook! Duh!!!!!!!)

Making a Decision Based on a Bunch of Factors

Sometimes in life we have to look at what we’re dealing with. In my case, it’s a few things.

1. Confidant Kid: My kid likes himself. I don’t want to be the one person who makes him feel bad about his tics by constantly forcing supplements down his throat. (Believe me, I could go there. “No video games if you don’t take these, sucker.”)

2. Brain Unbalanced: While I am relieved that Stink is happy with himself, I see the tics as a sign that his brain is a bit unbalanced. While some things I cannot change (Translation: I am not going to fix Tourette Syndrome) some things I can fix (Translation: A few supplements, prescribed by a doctor, can even out his symptoms and help him to concentrate more in school, reduce tics and keep the energy level here down to a reasonable amount.)

My God Story

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While for my son the tics might just be a part of “God’s story” for him, I’m a child of God, too. As one person in my “Twitch and Bitch” private support group pointed out, I get to direct some of my son’s plot, just like God directs mine. This means calming down the symptoms a bit. He thinks he’s not taking pills (a win for him) and I see a reduction in symptoms (a win for me).

What’s My Intent?

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In closing, I have to really look at my intention with the supplement seeking. If I’m doing it just to make me feel better, that’s not good enough. If I’m doing it for his health, that’s another. If I’m sneaking around because I’m afraid to stand up to my own kid, that’s a problem. (No, there are MANY places I hold my ground.) If I’m working around it to allow him the grace to feel good in his own skin without constantly bringing up tics, that’s another.

What’s Your Intent?

Does anyone else out there struggle with this? I have found that situations like this are the most difficult part of my journey. I want my kid to advocate for himself, but at the same time, I don’t want to constantly throw “tics” and “tourettes” in his face. I want him to be a kid who is confidant, happy and joyful who happens to tic, not the other way around.

What is the story you want to write for your child?

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The Dangers of Taurine on Kids: I’m Taking Stink Off It!

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After speaking to a nutritionist today, I have decided to take Stink off the Taurine. Despite how well he is doing tic wise (see previous post) I was advised it can be very bad for kids. It acts as a stimulate and can greatly damage the heart. That scared me.

What is Taurine?

Taurine is an amino acid sold in supplements and available in energy drinks. Taurine also occurs naturally in the body and plays a key role in many biological processes, such as detoxification and regulation of nerve-cell activity. Although low levels of taurine have been linked to several conditions (including eye diseases and cardiovascular problems), research on the health benefits of taurine supplements is limited.

Taking Stinkoff Taurine Slowly

Rather than quit cold turkey, I’m going to take him down to one pill/day for a week, then every other day for a week, then one, then none.

Always Check with a Professional Before Using Supplements

Normally I don’t willy nilly medicate my kids, but I had read on many mom forums that Taurine was this miracle supplement and went for it. I won’t be doing that again.

For those who are praying type, I am asking for prayers that his tics continue to stay minimal and that the NAC and Magnesium Citrate were what was helping him and not the Taurine.

Here’s one supporting article on the dangers of Taurine for kids.

Until next time…

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.

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