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new parent with a problem

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  • new parent with a problem

    Hi:I'm a new parent to the forum. My daughter has Tourette's and is 15. Her tics are pretty minor but she has major sleep issues and minor OCD issues.

    For the past few months she has missed school or been late at least 40% of the time.

    She's on clonidine to help her get the deep sleep she needs and wellbutrin to deal with lack of energy and mood.

    How do other parents deal with truancy? I know she is tired but I think the more she stays home and gets behind the harder it will be for her to go to school at all. I'm sure she finds it embarrassing, as well, to be so behind in her school work.

    How do I get her to school?

    Does anyone have any suggestions?


  • #2
    new parent with a problem

    Welcome Blayne to the TSFC forum!

    I've had the same concerns in the past with my son, though he was much younger at the time.

    Have you discussed your problem with the Doctor yet? He may be able to assist you and provide another perspective on the concern.

    Have you tried restricting stimulation like telephone, MSN, games a couple hours before bedtime?

    We always start for bed a half hour earlier then you normally would to draw the day to the end. No naps in between and we stay away from soda or pop. (Clear soda's don't effect children as much as dark)

    Going to bed early does not promise he will sleep, but helps. He usually reads.

    You may have more then one problem on your hands....being a mom of three girls myself. Your daughter is at the age to love being on the phone and hibernating anyway. Compound that factor with TS and odd sleep patterns and I can understand your struggle.

    I won't say my son loves me in the morning but pushing him in the right direction (tough love) seems to make a difference for us.

    Last year we had no problem, I just started him @ 6:30 am to be there by 8:15 am. It was rough on me but it worked, mid year he was able to get up at 7am and be fed and ready.

    Showers and such are done the evening before. A bath may relax her. Less preparation in the morning.

    I am sure you will have plenty of responses to your concern. It is a common one on this forum.

    Please keep us posted and feel free to do a search on "sleep" to find other posts from the past on this forum.
    (You will find the word "Search" above in blue)

    Take Care,


    • #3
      new parent with a problem

      Thanks for ideas on getting my daughter to relax. We've been trying a bath but she's resistant, the same with no TV or computer just before bed, but we should definately revisit that.

      I guess really it's the resistance to any aids to good sleep hygiene that I'm dealing with at this point. She knows what she needs to do but she may be dealing with some kind of block to that.

      I was reading on that separation anxiety may also cause school avoidance. She's been diagnosed with separation anxiety.

      Is there a resource for finding therapists in Toronto who specialize in these types of issues?



      • #4
        new parent with a problem

        Hi Blayne:

        Welcome to the bulletin board!

        It sounds like you have two separate problems -- problems sleeping, and problems waking. These can be too separate issues that need different strategies. By that I mean, solving the issue of getting enough sleep will not necessarily resolve the problem with waking.

        Dealing with symptoms in teenagers is always a difficult thing. One thing I found to be useful is to keep your eye on the long term solution to the problem. In a few years when your child is going to college, university, or starting work, who is going to own the problem? If you have to wake her up and supervise her morning routine to get her to school on time, then how long are you going to do this? (I speak from experience! My 18 year old just barely manages his morning routine after years of us having to push him through every step of the morning routine so he got to school on time.) Though you may need to provide help and direction in resolving the problem, your daughter needs to participate in the solution and needs to take ownership of getting up in time for school.

        In addition to working on strategies for sleep, you will want to focus on some strategies for waking. One method is to use two, dual-alarm clocks. Put one beside the bed and have it play music of your daughter's choice starting about 45 minutes before she needs to be up. Set the alarm on this clock to sound at 30 minutes before she needs to be up, and allow her to hit the snooze.

        Put the second clock across the room and set it to a different music station (also of her choice), 15 minutes before she needs to be up. She can use the snooze button when the music comes on. Set the alarm on this clock to the waking time, and don't allow her to return to bed when this alarm goes off. (Thanks to Sherri Pruitt for this strategy).

        Additionally, and though this is hard, you need to allow natural consequences to come into play. Does your daughter have an alternate way to get to school? Can she take a city bus if she misses her regular ride? If not, you may want to impose a penalty if you need to provide a ride. I know one parent who started charging her son a fee for a ride when he missed his regular school bus.

        There are several articles on Leslie Packard's website about sleeping disorders. You can find them here.

        There is also a section on sleeping and waking problems in the new TSFC book Understanding Tourette Syndrome: A Handbook for Families that will be out later this month (watch for a future announcement on the bulletin board).

        There is a clinic in Toronto that deals with TS that may be able to help you. It is at the Toronto Western Hospital. I am not from Toronto, so if anyone knows of other resources in the area, please post them for Blayne.
        Forum Moderator


        • #5
          new parent with a problem



          "I guess really it's the resistance to any aids to good sleep hygiene that I'm dealing with at this point. She knows what she needs to do but she may be dealing with some kind of block to that. "

          Are you saying good sleep & hygiene?

          Have you contacted her Doctor about this?

          If you call and just leave a message with the nurse, someone should call you back the same day.

          I know personally how difficult it is to work with a 15 year old to do something they do not want to do. What you are describing I have experienced with my son at one time.

          Please keep us posted..


          • #6
            new parent with a problem

            Hi there

            Welcome to our forum. The sleep issues are ongoing in our homes with my kids but especially with my oldest who is 14. He too has poor sleep hygiene. Regardless of what we have put in place he resists putting his head to the pillow. PJK made some great suggestions that you should try. Other things that we have learned through Occupational therapy have been having weighted blankets. It provides that deep pressure that some people need to fall asleep. This can be achieved through several quilts/heavy blankets or a down duvet. The other things that works for us is the use of relaxing music ie instrumental or even something that's easy listening ... our favs are Kenny G or Enya (the celts CD)

            Check out the resources Cathy referred to Leslie has great strategies that really have been beneficial to many kids we know with TS. There are a couple of topic thread started under the treatments section relating to sleep issues that may provide other solutions.

            Regardless of what you try, you can't make your child want sleep. My son continuously fights sleep so at his age it's pretty much out of my control. The downside is that he too misses days of school due to being exhausted. Fortunately he hasn't felt the negative impact from school. However, once he hits High school I anticipate that he will definitely feel the impact.

            I find it very frustrating as a parent. There were so many days in the past that he missed his bus and his back-up ride that either I or my husband would be late for work to drive him. Now his need for a drive can impact the arrival of our other boys to school on time so he is being left home to find his own way or he pays for his ride on occasion. (That's when tough love is really challenging. I too live with TS and can so relate to his lack of sense of urgency... although not intentional... he just can't get going in the am)

            You are not alone. there is no quick fix. Let us know what works for you and what you've tried. Many parents that visit us will have lots to share. Please continue to visit us.

            TSFC Homepage


            • #7
              new parent with a problem

              Thankyou, everyone for your thoughtful replies. I will look into a dual alarm clock for the waking part and weighted blankets for the sleeping.

              One thing that may work better for us with another alarm clock is a "sunrise" clock that we have. It's not working on its own because my daughter turns it off when it starts beeping.

              It works by turning on a soft light that gets brighter over a preset time period. Ours is set at 90 minutes. By the time the beeper goes off my daughters room is full of light.

              If I can get another alarm clock going across the room then maybe I'll have a solution.



              • #8
                new parent with a problem

                I have to have multiple alarm clocks too, and one is set across the room. And I still hit the snooze alarm for about an hour! Ugh!!!!

                Since your daughter is 15, I'm not sure how you feel about her drinking coffee but another trick for me is to have a cup of coffee on my nightstand before I go to bed. Then, as I get up and hit the snooze, I take sips of coffee in the morning and that helps me become coherent in the mornings too. Room temperature coffee isn't the yummiest thing in the world, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! ;)

                Also, has she had her iron levels checked? I've read that menstrauting females should have their iron checked like once a year. (just a thought??)


                • #9
                  new parent with a problem

                  Thanks for reply. I have had my daughters iron levels checked. They are on the low side of normal and she takes Palifer iron tablets but they are hard on her system.

                  Well, one of the advantages of living at home is that my daughter has someone who will deliver a fresh cafe au lait to her bedside (that would be me). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It is the only caffeine she's allowed during the day.

                  But I am definately going to set up a dual alarm clock system with her.

                  Thanks again


                  • #10
                    new parent with a problem

                    I had the same reaction to iron years ago as well as my daughter, after speaking to our Doctor I tried Spinach iron and with much success without all the stomach upset.

                    Check with your own Doctor to see what they advise. Supplements can be important and necessary for some people, no since being in agony through the process.

                    Good Luck!


                    • #11
                      new parent with a problem

                      Can you get an iron supplement made from spinach? That would be perfect. Unfortunately she hates eating spinach, so if it's in supplement form that's great. Can you let me know where you can get it?



                      • #12
                        new parent with a problem

                        I spoke to my Doctor first to get an idea of the dose necessary and advised him I wanted to try this option.

                        I just purchase it at any health food store.


                        • #13
                          new parent with a problem

                          I'll check out the health food stores here and talk to her doctor about the correct dose.



                          • #14
                            new parent with a problem

                            Hi Blayne:

                            My name is Sandra, and I have a son who is almost 5 and is thought to have TS. I'm from Milton, and my pediatrician does not have a professional interest in TS, though she is the one who diagnosed him.

                            Just yesterday, I contacted the Tourettes Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital via email, because I had heard that Toronto Western specializes in neurological disorders.

                            The website is:


                            {URL edited by moderator for correction}

                            They specialize in assessment, consultation, pharmacotherapy followup, and family counselling and cognitive therapy for children and adults. They are thought to be a leader in neuroscience research.

                            Hope that helps...



                            • #15
                              new parent with a problem


                              Thank you for providing the information on the Tourette Clinic at TWGH.

                              Keep us posted on your experience there and feel free to let them know about the TSFC online support Forum. Tourette clinics often look for support services for their patients.

                              You may wish to print out a copy of our Forum Poster for their reference:

                              Dum spiro spero....While I breathe, I hope

                              Tourette Canada Homepage
                              If you enjoy the TC Forum, please consider a Tourette Canada membership
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