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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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“This is Bruce.”

It’s been one of those past two years months where it feels like slogging through molasses in lead boots carrying a bowling ball while nursing would be easier than securing a job I’m truly gifted at…

fw

Marketing a book…

taco truck quote chapter 1

Caring for children….

kids in pool
??????????????

And helping a spouse start a business… 

sss

Then again, after writing that last bit, the first part seems easier.

sss

Which leads me to the real point: how about I just stop?

ssss

I don’t mean stop taking steps toward my goals. But how about I stop trying to manage and control everything? In the end, it’s truly not the result that matters, but the path to the process. I mean, what’s the point of getting that awesome gig or landing a T.E.D. talk if, at the end of the day, I’ve been a joyless, nagging, cranky, petulant and often worry filled hot mess? (Not that I’m ever one of those adjectives. Sheesh!)

It seems to me, crazy as this might sound, that taking life on life’s terms is the way to go.

Less judgement, not just of others, but of me.

Less working.

More playing.

rain

Less fretting.

More laughing.

Less me.

More God.

I once heard that “expectations” can be translated as “unborn resentments.” I was thinking about that while in line at Trader Joe’s. I had not expected to be, at 46, thinking about whether it’s truly a good plan to spend $24 instead of $20 on a bag full of mini tacos, cole slaw, gluten free bread and some cereal. I was supposed to be a working TV writer, don’t you know! (Or at least have a career writing jingles or Shel Silverstein poem books!)

But there I was with my re-usable shopping bag. On a budget, but determined to have joy anyway. Because, well, joy does not conform to budget. Joy looks at budget and says, “Ha, ha ha! I fart on you, silly money constraints! I will enjoy my day, go back for a second cup of sample coffee, and enjoy a gluten-filled gnocci taster since my sweet ticker is not here to watch me delight in the twitch inducing pasta morsels!”

I will chat with the cashier.

I will ask about her day.

And then I will explain to her that my shark backpack is not a shark after all but an Orca.

Named Bruce.

bruce

And when she laughs and says, “That’s awesome!” I will laugh, too. Because, in the end, if I really had to choose between a crud load of cash and a true connection with another human being in the grocery store line, I’d choose the second option every time.

Even if my purse threatens to swallow her whole. (Bruce… he’s a cheeky accessory to say the least.)

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 have the wisdom to know the difference.

Love,

Andrea

PS: I highly recommend getting a mammal shaped pocketbook. It can transform your day. Add in some Victoria floral designed fayx Doc Martins and a “I Love My Crazy Friends” tee shirt and your whole week will improve just by getting dressed!

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

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ADHD – Another Day Having Discussions

 

I used to read that the “co-morbid” conditions of T.S. were far more frustrating than the tics themselves.

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As defined, co-morbid means the annoying other conditions that make you want to poke your eyes out with ice picks the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient. For kids with Tourettes, this could be ADHD, OCD, Autism, ADD and insane awesomeness.

Stink deals with the last two on the list, and let me tell you, it’s been a crazy year. If I was able to guide him through the chaos, drama and joy that accompanies kinder through sixth grade, let’s just say that seventh grade has proven to be the final leak in a boat that was destined to sink without a major overhaul in the floorboard.

Having a kid with T.S. and ADD, while being a working parent with a little bit of ADHD herself (I know… biiiig shock) is kind of like fixing a boat’s floor while still on the water. It can be done, but the progress is slow. (Not to mention tiring. How many buckets of water can you scoop and throw over the side while steering the ship and feeding the crew?)

The best bet to fixing that leak is to get that boat out of the ocean all together. Take a break from the swells and breathe while your vessel chills out on dry docks. Get a professional boat repair man (or woman – no prejudice here!). Invest in his advice, buy the supplies to keep it fresh and clean once it’s back on the water, and absolutely join a hole-in-the-boat support group. After all, there’s a decent chance that at some point that gash in the floorboard will come back. You’ll want another mama to cruise by in her motorboat when this happens.  You’ll want that lifeline and the invitation to a cup of coffee in her well stocked cabin to catch your breath until your own boat works again.

Since life is not apparently perfect, I’m kind of stuck in the middle between shore and open water. I’ve been organizing my own life, to help organize Stink’s, and we’ve made progress. I am avoiding a lot of frustration by accepting life on life’s terms. I am not focusing on what he’s behind on in school. (Um, everything.) Instead, I’m focusing on helping him get caught up with the goal that he’ll be doing this himself at some point.

This means coming home each day after school and doing his work in the same spot. It means having him diligently utilize his planner so that he’s not relying on his own brain to remember every little detail of his “overwhelming” (his words) seventh grade schedule.

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The challenge with using a planner is that you have to remember to take your planner home. And then, here’s the real rub: you have to find it in the first place. And when that task seems too monumental, you just throw yourself on the floor and scream like a Carolina fan reach out to an educator who knows you’re doing your best to help your kid.

Here’s an email exchange I had yesterday with one of his educators, minus the teacher’s name because, you know, these teachers have nothing better to do than stalk their ADD student’s mom’s blog.

Hi Teacher Fabulous-

The last piece of my kid’s organization puzzle is his missing planner. He is out sick today so when he’s back tomorrow I will have him check his locker. If it’s not there, is there an extra he can have? If not, I will buy one and he will be held accountable.
If there is any homework you need him to do today, please feel free to let me know. 
Thanks!

Andrea

 **
  
Hi Andrea,
I don’t have any extra planners.  I gave my last one away a few weeks ago.
We are practicing percents in a new packet today.  Do you want to pick it up later?  Let me know.
Thanks,
Teacher Fabulous
** 
 
Hi again –  
 

Yes, I will pick it up today after school if that works for you? If not, you can leave it in the office. Whatever is best. 

Can I just pick up a planner at an educational store?
THIS KID. He better get with the program or I’m returning him. I have books to write.
Andrea
**
Andrea – 

I have to supervise out front after school.  I’ll do my best to remember to bring it out there with me so you can get it then.  

I would make your own life easy and just go to Target or Walmart for a planner.  
There’s a thirty day return policy…..sorry, you can’t return him!  🙂
Teacher Fabulous
*** 
 
Oh for fucks sake. 
Andrea
***

 

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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Mothers Tell Stories…

 

here comes the dom

And so here’s mine. It seems as if the moment my kid hit 13 the teens hit full force. The defiance, the arguing, the overall surliness.

And, well, if I’m being honest, I thought it was going to be one of those deals where my kid, while still totally socially appropriate, would still find me amazing and cool and, despite being busy with friends and outings and Boy Scouts, would want to jump in the car the moment I say, “Hey, who wants to the grocery store and crash the free sample table!”

Every single little dream there? Lost. We’re not talking by a little. We’re talking epic defeat. For one thing, my kid is far from winning any social awards at school. Oh, he has a bunch of friends, but they’re kind of like him… a bit on the wacky side… a little bit clueless on the when girls like them side. (Yes, Stink, if she remembered to call you on your birthday, buy you a gift, buy you a Christmas gift and ask you to teen night, there just might be some interest.) Boy Scouts He doesn’t do uniforms.

Stink and his friends are like oversized male children with skinny legs, crazy fros and a scent that can only be described as a cross between testosterone and Axe.

The difference between him and his other friends, however, is that I can’t make out their duck quacks from across a crowded parking lot. When they roll their eyes, I know it’s because they are being sassy and not because Mr. Flappy Lid has made his appearance again. When his buddies nod, it’s to mean “yes” or “no”, and not the head jerk prodigal son making his triumphant return. (No, I’m not having a banquet for these returning relatives. But if I did, you could bet it would be gluten and dairy free.)

Stink’s tics – the loud ones – are back. And this time, they are stronger than before. (Gosh darnit, Taurine, you let me down again. You’re like that bad boyfriend. Just when I think I can trust you, you leave my sorry butt in a heap of despair!)

Here’s the thing, though: my kid, like his eyes, just roll. He doesn’t see them as a problem. They don’t make him different or geeky or less than. It’s simply something he does, not who he is.

In my brain, this should be enough. But in my heart, I still die a little bit. As a mother of a kid with this wonky disability, I fight so many demons:

  • Do I not love him enough for who he is – including his noises?
  • Do I not love him enough because I’m not making him take meds?
  • If I am not choosing to not put him on medication, then am I ruining his life with my occasional “Keep it down, kid. PLEASE!” (Oh yeah, Saturday’s “G-DAMNIT, STINK, QUIET DOWN FOR ONE SECOND!” was epic. He literally curled into the door frame of the car and didn’t talk to me for ten minutes. He also didn’t tic. And that made it worse. I won! For being a butt wipe! Hooray for me! Send the Mommy Shaming Award my way, FedEx!)
  • And what about his sister? I have spent soooo much extra time with her the past few years – I’ve wanted to… it’s not a challenge – but it’s a balancing act to say the least.

I had a good cry last night. I mean, a good one.

Me: Stink, I’m so sorry. I just suck sometimes. I feel so bad for yelling at you about that noise.

Stink: Mom, it’s okay. (Quack quack) I forgave you already! I don’t keep resentments!

Me: I know, but I feel awful. I just love you so much. I don’t want to ruin you.

Stink: Impossible!

Me: Well, thank you. And hey – I promise – I am not going to ask you to stop ticking again.

Stink: Also impossible! (He’s right. Now I’m really sobbing.) It’s okay to cry, Mom. You got to let it out. (He farts.) Ahhh… it just feels better to release, you know?

I swear, the noises from that kid never stops. But his biggest ticker is his heart. I’m grateful.

And so, once again, I am saying it here: I am determined to not get so wound up on tics. But I can’t do it on my own. I just can’t.

Dear God, get in the car and hang with me. Don’t drive like that Jesus Take the Wheel Song. That would creepy to see a long haired dude in a tunic driving my stinky SUV. But be with me. I need the support. Andrea. PS: I hope you can handle Cheeto crumbs and Country Music. 

Yup, when I give it to God, there’s just so much more perspective.

This morning, after a little praying, it dawned on me that I might not ever accept this disorder. I can, however, accept that it’s sometimes just hard. The reality of what is, not what I want it to be, was not always my first choice toward serenity, but it sure as hell makes for a more a more peaceful reality. I can do something with reality. I can fill bad days with joy. I can walk away from yelling at my kid and stroll in the sunshine instead. I can write. I can pray. I can help another mom who is suffering. (Write me, moms! HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com).

When God’s at the center of my problem, not my misery, I can relax. I can remember that it’s not my job to make my son disability-free. It’s my job to love him. And boy, do I.

Final Thoughts

Tonight I took a break. It had been a long day of working and cooking and kid pick-upping and homeworking. Instead of sitting at home counting tics doing more Ebay listings, I went with my daughter to a YMCA banquet. She was one of 3 asked to perform for a fund raising event.

Playing Wendy in an upcoming Peter Pan show, she put on her yellow Mary Janes with white ankle socks. She stood straight, hair in bun, and spoke in a sweet British accent, “She’s the person who kisses you goodnight…” and then she sang… “your mother and mine… your mother and mine.”

She went on to sing, “Mothers tell stories… they often do… what you can’t do… mothers can do.”

Raising my kid with Tourettes isn’t unlike my daughter getting up on stage, singing in front of hundreds. I get to hide my fear with my poker face. I get to get dressed every morning (the bun is optional) and I get to sing my heart out because the lights shining on me. And maybe, at the end of the day, my son will remember his mother who loved him enough to write a book, to pen a blog, and hopefully help a few others out there not feel so alone.

“Mothers tell stories, they often do, what you can’t do, mothers can do.”

Moms, you can do it. You can. And worse case, if your day is hard, consider climbing into bed with your family – tics and all. You’ve got one childhood to tell a good story. (Pssst: You are an amazing hero in this story. Give it a good ending!)

my family

 

This post dedicated to Denise, who always seems to show up when I need it most. I am grateful. 

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

book cover

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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.

us

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

book cover