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Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

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  • Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

    We have just weaned my son (9) off of his Clonidine so I am guessing he is probably already more suseptible (sp?) to his tics worsening. However, we have noticed in the last two days that after he plays first-person or somewhat intense computer/video games that he has started with quite an aggressive head snapping tic. He whips it forward. This is a new tic (he usually has a few different ones that he cycles through) and I am worried because of the force he's doing it that he is going to hurt himself.

    Has anyone else experienced tics worsening after playing certain video/computer games? We have told him that he has to stop playing them for a few days to see if it is indeed what is triggering it and he's really upset as one of them is his favorite game I feel bad but I am really worried about this one

  • #2
    Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

    My impression is that the video game is acting as a stimulant. People with Tourette generally have a higher anxiety or stress level than the general population, so an added stressor would likely increase tic activity.

    I would not see it as a bad thing, because if he gets enjoyment from the activity and if the tics are occurring at home, in his safe place there is no harm.

    If the tics which are expressed during video games are different from those during other activities, it's probably because of the different kind of stimulus.

    Tourette tics are not inherently bad, and are the normal expression of the disorder. The tics only become a problem if they interfere with one's quality of life. If there's no interference, there's no need to interfere with the tics, IMO.
    TouretteLinks Forum


    • #3
      Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

      Hi there

      I have a 15 year old and when he was around 11 he started this same head tic. It did worsen following his time on the systems playing games or on the computer. But any time he was feeling stress - positive or negative- it got worse. This tic stayed with him till last spring and then it seemed to stop. It re-occurred when he started back to school in Sept- grade 9- and he shared he was a little relieved -he had missed it! However once the novelty of "back to school" was over it went away and I rarely see it now.

      I have found that his tics and my 9 years old's tic worsen following time playing their games. when playing these systems they are often intense games that the kids become totally engaged with and they feel the same level of intensity while playing. So even if they have ADHD they become over focused on these games and this is why they have a hard time turning them off or transitioning from playing. While over-focused on the game, often they may not tic at all so look out when they are away from the systems.

      IMO I don't believe taking the games away will stop the ticcing. However if you find your son is having pain in his neck and muscles you may want to consider massage therapy. Keep in mind if you go this route you may find you have to go often because if the tic continues then the strain on the muscles will continue. The local pharmacy may be able to recommend a good lotion to massage into his muscles yourself to help him relax.

      If you are really concerned about what damage he may experience you should chek with your doctor and share your concerns. S/He may have other suggestions. my son survived several years of this tic and today is okay- but I must say he has really strong neck muscles ;)

      Let us know how he is doing

      TSFC Homepage


      • #4
        Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

        I have noticed the same thing in my son when he plays video games on the computer. His tick though is biting his hand really hard so maybe its the intense anxiety of the game. I often wondered if thats what started his new biting tick as thats when I first noticed it was while he was at the computer.
        I don't know how I would ever get him away from his games as he loves them too much!



        • #5
          Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

          Yes, we restrict the time on these games for that reason.

          We also replaced the regular monitor with a flat screen monitor and found great improvement with aggressive motor tics.

          The same thing can happen if my son sits to close to the TV watching cartoons.
          Both are stimulants for tics, mostly motor though I have seen his coughing tic worsen while being on for long periods of time.

          Hope this helps.


          • #6
            Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

            Thats funny I always thought playing games calmed my tics. Though I guess its because I tend to get very involved in my video game playing.
            TS and Chorn's disease, two diseases triggered by stress. Why am I going into special education one of the most stressful professions out there?


            • #7
              Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

              Although I do not have children, I myself have TS. I can definitely tell you that it is the games that are 'bringing out' this tic. It happens with all of us with TS...stress AND excitement (amongst others) cause tics.

              Whenever I get really happy or the adreneline starts to flow, my tics come out full force--both motor and vocal. One recent example was learning a new card game with my husband and parents. I was loving it and getting right into the competition when, low and behold, the tics emerged. We eventually stopped but if your son is at home and the tic really doesn't bother him, I don't see the problem in letting him continue. He'll eventually get used to it and his neck will end up amazingly strong to boot!

              (One tip: I find if I tap my feet or purposely perform another tic or movement, it sometimes makes the really 'bad' ones not appear. It doesn't always work but it's worth a shot.)

              The bottom line is: your son will continue to have different things in his life that make him super happy, mad or sad. The tics come and go and increase/decrease in severity. If it's not this tic, it'll be another and if this is his favourite game, I don't see the point in denying him. Ultimately, you are the parent and it is your decision. Coming to a forum like this is definitely a good spot to get feedback. Good luck with your son. Teaching him how to control the tic might be the best bet. Hope this post helps in some way!



              • #8
                Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

                Originally posted by xwing2b View Post
                Thats funny I always thought playing games calmed my tics. Though I guess its because I tend to get very involved in my video game playing.
                Hear, hear! The computer calms my tics. That's not a good thing, necessarily, but playing video games always helps me relax, if you can believe that. But, they are very addicting. Sort of like self-medicating with tobacco or alcohol, I guess. Your brain likes it, wants more.
                Darin M. Bush, The Tourette Tiger, author of "Tiger Trails"


                • #9
                  Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

                  Originally posted by Kel View Post
                  I can definitely tell you that it is the games that are 'bringing out' this tic. It happens with all of us with TS...stress AND excitement (amongst others) cause tics.
                  I have yet to find something, other than tics, that ALL TS folks have or experience. I call it the "80% rule". I've talked about it before. If you get enough Ticcers in one room, someone will have NO idea what you are talking about, given a random TS related subject. It is always someone different when you change the subject. Frustrating, I know, but also kinda cool. I think it is a major hint as to what we're up against.

                  Also, watch out for that word "cause". Stress does not cause tics, but it certainly ! can make them worse (exacerbate is one of my all time favorite words).

                  For me, when I play video games, I get into the zone. It is the same when I am writing, or when I am giving a speech or teaching. The energy of doing what I want to do - and most people don't like giving speeches - seems to redirect or refocus the energy of the tics.
                  Darin M. Bush, The Tourette Tiger, author of "Tiger Trails"


                  • #10
                    Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

                    The good thing about joining a forum is that everyone can express their own opinions, thoughts and concerns freely. It's a great place to seek comfort, answers or even let out a little frustration every now and then.

                    Everyone has their own way of expressing their views and in turn uses their own vocabulary. This is by far not a medical or professional site and no one should rely solely on the views of any of the members. But again, it's a nice place to come and feel a little less alone.

                    Tourette Tiger brought up some good points with my last post. Not all those who have TS have the same tics/symptoms. I have not met many people with this disorder, however, having done a lot of research, I come to the same conclusion. What I meant by writing that the the video games are the reason 'tjsmum''s son is experiencing this tic is because I can relate to his situation. Stimulants like TV or video games bring out my tics. I think that was a clear message...not to be taken as anyone who has TS has this same issue.

                    Also, for those who have done the research, we all know that the actual cause of tics is not stress, excitement, sensory issues...they are only the things that excerbate them. I wrote my post at 2am after having quite an attack so I don't think that perfect litterary vocabulary was in full swing. I don't want to stir the pot here but isn't it better to just read and comment on the issues at hand, rather than correct people's posts? Even if I was completely and utterly wrong, it is a forum to share ideas and opinions. I was quite disappointed to read the reply 'tourette tiger'. Please just use your good knowledge to comfort those who are seeking it. Thanks. --Kelly


                    • #11
                      Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

                      It is really 'kinda cool' indeed how there's differences in what will bring on, and calm down tics. We also have different styles of communicating about it, and I think that's also kinda cool. I'm sorry you felt misunderstood Kelly, and I'm sure Tourette Tiger, you didn't mean to come across as weilding a red pen. There's one thing I've learned from forums and through my online courses.... it's so easy to misinterpret other people when you can't pick up on their nonverbal cues, and use those to interpret their message more clearly.... a challenge indeed to get the real flavor of our message across!

                      As for the whole videogaming/ticcing thing, I've found that with my older son, it does tend to bring out more tics afterwards (but he's in 'the zone' while gaming), and with my younger, it calms him down, even afterwards. ???? Go figure!



                      • #12
                        Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

                        My son seems to be the same where he is fine while playing, it's afterwards. We have found though that first person games are the worst. We got him another game to take his mind off not playing the one that we think was the trigger. I don't know much if anything about Tourettes so I hope that when I am asking questions I don't offend anyone. I was under the impression that certain things triggered the tics, but is that not the case I know this morning he was being difficult (he is also ADHD/ODD) and at one point I raised my voice, bang, head twitching started. He wasn't doing it before then and when we both calmed down and we both apologized, it was gone. It's like walking on egg shells, I seem to be a trigger and it is so hard to always be the perfect parent so that I don't trigger them.


                        • #13
                          Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

                          Originally posted by tjsmum View Post
                          It's like walking on egg shells, I seem to be a trigger and it is so hard to always be the perfect parent so that I don't trigger them.
                          I know exactly how you feel. For years my husband and I felt like we were walking on eggs shells. It got to the point where our son was basically terrorizing our home.

                          That was a turning point for us as parents. With the help of family therapy we began to realize we were not doing him any favours by being so "accomodating" all of the time. Our son is an only child so it was relatively easy for us to tailor everything exactly to his needs.

                          Kids with TS do need some accomodations as well as a safe place where they can let it all out.

                          The danger with parenting a special needs child is it is easy to go too far with your "help". There is a very fine line between offering your child the support he needs and being over protective and too helpful to the point where they can not function very well on their own.

                          All kids needs to understand that they are responsible for their own behaviour regardless of any health issues they may have. They should be accountable for their actions regardless of what the people around them do.

                          I am sorry if I sound cold about this. I don't mean to be. Although I seem to be able to spell out the theory of it all in words it is very hard to live by those words.

                          There are still times we walk on egg shells and there are many many times I feel guilty or ask myself what could I have done differently to change an outcome.

                          Sometimes there is something I could have done differently, other times it is my son who could have done it differently, and sometimes we both did it right but the results are not what we would choose.

                          There are times you just have to accept things as they are and deal with it the best you can. There is no blame to be cast.

                          The fact that you are here researching information shows the dedication you have to your son. The next time things get hard (and they will) try to remember you are a good parent and there are no perfect parents.


                          • #14
                            Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

                            Video games can have either effect on me. If I'm playing an online game and getting frustrated, they can worsen. Sometimes, when you have vocal tics, the Xbox Live headset is not your friend, by the way. :P

                            However, usually I find playing games relaxing and my tics relax as well. Occasionally I just get excited in a good way, and that brings out a few more tics, but that's quite alright.

                            It depends on the game, really. Playing Lego Star Wars (a funny adventure game) or online poker is probably going to have a different effect than playing Gears of War or Call of Duty (both shooting games). And playing an active video game, like Wii Sports is going to be another experience completely.

                            Of course there's such thing as too much, and parents ought to limit their kids somewhat... but I think there's way too much fear of video games in general. Games are an outlet for stress, too - sometimes a needed one.


                            • #15
                              Re: Computer/Video games bringing on tics?

                              cailean, that is a really good point about how it depends what game it is. I also agree that gaming is a really good outlet. (for some) ... I don't have any hard evidence for this, it's just an intuitive sense thing I get from my older son... I can tell it releives some of the tension by giving him a really intense focus.

                              I'm also pleased to see that he's also getting into reading novels more and more these days as a way to 'get away' and focus on something intensely. He's right into fantasy novels such as Cornelia Funke and her 'Inkheart' & 'Inkspell' series. I thought he would NEVER get into reading (a sad thing for me, as I have a passion for books), but once he hit 12, things really changed in that department. I did continue to read to him a chapter each night (the Narnia series etc), but now he's right into reading on his own, and doesn't really want me involved anymore *sniff sniff* ;) I'm so proud of that too though, as like I said.... I never thought I'd see the day where he'd get so into reading. So there's hope out there for anyone concerned about their younger kids and reading!

                              Sorry, kind of off topic for gaming/tics. Oh, and while he's reading he rarely tics by the way... a focus thing I guess.