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Thread: How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

  1. #1

    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    Hello
    How do I tell if the odd things my son does are tics or if he is just doing them on purpose out of boredom or excitement?

    The most frequent noises he makes are just kind of "yowwp" or "ooooop" types of sounds. He also will puff out his cheeks and force the air out of pursed lips to make a balloon type squealing sound.

    If he sees a dog on the tv, he will bark for a few minutes. But sometimes he also barks and makes yelping noises when he is alone in the bathroom, or playing with his friends.

    Once he saw the cat licking itself and he started to make licking movements that lasted a few minutes.

    Sometimes he climbs on the back of the sofa, or does somersaults on the sofa over and over and over again.

    Sometimes he suddenly shakes his hands, like they are wet and he is drying them off.

    The most frequent odd behaviour my husband and I have observed is that he walks on his toes or on the front of his feet. He is capable of walking normally, but he seems to prefer this toe walking most of the time.

    I just don't know if these are tics, or symptoms of anything at all, or just normal 8 year old behaviour.

    Am I over reacting? He hasn't been diagnosed with tourettes - we haven't even been to the pediatrician yet - we are waiting for appointment. I just don't want to go the pediatrician and have him think that I am over reacting to perhaps normal behaviour.

    Thanks for any input.
    Tracy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Ontario
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    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    Tracy:

    Has he had any problems in school?

    I'm just a mom balancing a cocktail of disorders that my son has.

    It is probably a good thing to speak to your Doctor and see what he advised. It is never silly to ask good questions and get some direction when raising a child.

    Write your concerns down or copy/paste and print your note. While waiting to see the Doctor keep a daily log and record your findings of the day if these events concern you.
    You may see a pattern to the behavior this way and make it easier for your Doctor to help.

    There are some simple tests he can do with your son in the office to help determine if he is just a busy little 8 yr old or more tests should be considered.

    Keep us all posted on how things are going and don't worry. Stress is never good for anyone. :D
    PJK

  3. #3

    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    Tracy, some of these are fairly typical autistic behaviours, like toe walking, mimicking, repetitive things like the somersaults. And typically, autistic people (which includes people with Asperger Syndrome) have some tics as well, which rarely are so numerous or so pronounced that there will be a separate diagnosis of TS as well (obviously, I am one of those rare cases).

    But you're right to have it checked out. Either way, a lot of these behaviours are not displayed by your typical eight-year-old child. But I wouldn't worry too much, if it's TS or AS (or both), that wouldn't be the end of the world (well, that's my opinion, anyway).
    German citizen, married to a Canadian for 28 years, four daughters, one son, eight grandchildren (and one on the way).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    St. John's NL
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    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    Welcome Tracy

    There are no tests or blood work to diagnose TS. Many tests that doctors do are to eliminate another diagnosis. It can be a long process to get a final diagnosis because it is a syndrome and there are not a lot of doctors who are not totally familiar with all the aspects of this disorder. TS is a syndrome because it presents so differently in everyone. For that reason doctors do a lot of exploring to get to a diagnosis. There has to be a history of behaviors for TS to be diagnosed. TS is genetic and tics (both motor ie. movements and at least 1 vocal i.e sound) have to be present for at least a year, doctors don't jump into a diagnosis.

    Your son could be just an active little boy. Some of these behaviors could be tic like behaviors. Have you asked him to stop any of these behaviors? If you have, has he been able to stop them?

    Many kids who have been diagnosed will tell you they "can't" stop because they really can't. Some parent of kids with TS have made their kids stop and tried behavior mod programs to stop unwanted behaviors but they can only stop for a short time and the behavior starts again.

    Eye blinking is a common motor tic with TS; but other common tics are facial movement, movements of limbs, nose twitching, head twitches, to name only a few. Some simple vocal tics are clearing your throat, sighing, clucking, humming, sniffing(which often gets explained away with allergies), again to list only a few.

    To prepare yourself before going to the doctor read some of the articles posted on the TSFC site and take a few minutes to journal, like PJK suggested, any other concerns you might have. If you think TS and you suggest that to your doctor it may trigger him or her to start asking you more questions and that is when your journal will come in handy.

    Am I over reacting? He hasn't been diagnosed with tourettes - we haven't even been to the pediatrician yet - we are waiting for appointment. I just don't want to go the pediatrician and have him think that I am over reacting to perhaps normal behaviour
    Do you have anyone in your family or in his dad's family who has TS? What made you think TS?

    Tracy, a mother knows her child better than anyone else in the world, so don't question your instincts because if you are feeling these behaviors are odd then you need to check them out. I think it is great that you are open and able to see what you see. As for being concerned about over reacting to normal behavior, we haven't figured out yet what normal is :roll:

    Whether it is TS or not we look forward to having you participate in our forum and I'm sure you will find there are many parents on here who will be willing to share their stories. You may also want to check out the forum especially set up for parents.
    Janet, mom of 4

    TSFC Homepage


    "Intelligence is always increasing; accommodation allows your intelligence to do what it has always done." Cassie Green, Washington College

  5. #5

    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    Thank you all for your responses - it is nice to feel listened to!

    Quote Originally Posted by Janet
    Your son could be just an active little boy. Some of these behaviors could be tic like behaviors. Have you asked him to stop any of these behaviors? If you have, has he been able to stop them?
    I have asked him to stop only when it is truly grating on my nerves (ie - in the car when he is making noises, or in the mall when he is walking in such a bizarre way that you cannot walk next to him - legs kicking out to the sides, etc) He CAN stop the behaviour. Sometimes, however, the behaviour turns into something else (ie. something less noisy, less intrusive, etc). Sometimes the behaviour just stops. None of the behaviours stop forever - they have ALWAYS come back again at some point, whether it is later the same day, or the next day.


    Quote Originally Posted by Janet
    Eye blinking is a common motor tic with TS; but other common tics are facial movement, movements of limbs, nose twitching, head twitches, to name only a few. Some simple vocal tics are clearing your throat, sighing, clucking, humming, sniffing(which often gets explained away with allergies), again to list only a few.
    The only one of the common tics that he has is the movement of limbs. I haven't noticed any facial tics, other than the time he pretended he was the cat licking itself.

    Do you have anyone in your family or in his dad's family who has TS? What made you think TS?
    My adopted brother has TS, but obviously this is not the genetic connection

    Anyway, that is why I thought about TS in the first place - the barking and somersaulting on the couch reminded me very much of my brother (who also has FAS and ADD and a general LD)

    My FIL has the habit of touching his face ALOT when he is the center of a conversation - (always just thought of this as a nervous habit because he is a bit shy.) He also repeats himself a lot. My husband touches his face too when he is center of a conversation - thought he picked this up from watching his dad.

    Tracy

  6. #6

    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    {{I am not sure how to quote more than one person in a message - sorry for the multiple posts!}}

    Quote Originally Posted by PJK
    Has he had any problems in school?
    The only problems he seems to have in school are with socializing. He has BIG DIFFICULTIES fitting in with his peers. Often at recess he just wanders around by himself. When I ask him why he doesn't join the other kids, he says that they already look like they are busy and they look like they wouldn't want anyone else to join in. Or he tells me that he doesn't feel comfortable asking if he could play.
    The other kids seem to like him (he gets invited to a multitude of birthday parties, etc), but his perception of their approval of him is different. he has some self esteem issues.

    He also has trouble judging what a person means - ie. Once he came home from school very upset - when he finally told us what happened, my husband and I were shocked that the incident had such an impact on him. He was wandering the playground alone at recess and wandered in front of a few kids who were bouncing a ball against the wall. One of the kids said "Hey kid, move out of the way!". My son was hung up and upset about the fact that this child had called him "Hey Kid"

    He also totally overreacts to being hurt. Quoting the gym teacher, "When injured on the playground, he cries in such a way that you expect EXTREME injury - however, he only has a bump or bruise"
    When my daughter falls, she brushes it off quickly. When my son falls, you can expect to have to console him for about 10 minutes, and then he will refer back to the fall / bruise for the rest of the day.

    Oh, he does have trouble getting "stuck" on some school work - ie. He hates word finds - if he can't find the next word on the list, he will get stuck and won't proceed on to find the following word on the list, or on to any other activity. Then when he gets home, he beats himself up saying how his brain is just too stupid or too small to do this word find. (I hate homework time - it often turns into him bashing himself and storming off to his room, and me trying to assure him that he is not what he says he is - I am a teacher, so I can tell him from experience that all kids have some problems with some types of work).

    Tracy

  7. #7

    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uschi
    Tracy, some of these are fairly typical autistic behaviours, like toe walking, mimicking, repetitive things like the somersaults. And typically, autistic people (which includes people with Asperger Syndrome) have some tics as well, which rarely are so numerous or so pronounced that there will be a separate diagnosis of TS as well (obviously, I am one of those rare cases).
    I thought about the Asperger's possibility too. However, he socializes fine with his family (immediate and extended) - smiles, laughs, interacts, etc.

    He has a fascination with lego - he would play nothing but lego if given the choice. Over this past summer, I let him play with lego all he wanted for awhile to see how long he would hold out without getting bored. He played for 4 days SOLID! Then I had to break the lego streak because we went on a holiday!

    Tracy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    St. John's NL
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    1,147

    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    Hello Tracy

    A lot of what you have shared about your son is very familiar. My second oldest is 7.5 and last year in gr 1 his first term was horrible. He would not interact with the kids in his class. He was only interested in the adults. We used social stories to work through some social situation with him and did exercises around matching names with faces because he could not retain their names. He struggled through gr1 acedemically but finally could count and recall the aphabet by end of year, but cannot connect the letters to get words... and won't try because he insists he can't!

    He has extreme reactions to things at times and would storm over such little incidents. When children over-react to being touched or hurt, it often is due to being hyper-sensitive to touch, this is an area for occupational therapy. Other hyper-sensory issues can be found with noises or smells. I smell everything before I eat it and I have seen that in my second oldest too. I am hyper-sensitive to smell. I can smell everything and it drives me crazy sometimes... my poor boys will never get away with anything with my nose. My boys have swung from hyper to hypo-sensitive with noises. I could be driving and the music is on and they can't hear it so it nees to be turned on blast, then a few days later I automatically turn it up and then it needs to be off because they hate the noise :shock: The worst is when they are all in different phases...one wants it loud while one wants it off :?

    I strongly recommend that you transcribe all the things you mentioned in your previous posts. Again all this needs to be shared with the right person for you to get the support you need. Part of the assessment process is checking for OT issues (fine motor, sensory, etc).

    Feel free to post as much as you want. Ask and share as much as you need, that is what we are here for, to provide you with support and resources.
    Janet, mom of 4

    TSFC Homepage


    "Intelligence is always increasing; accommodation allows your intelligence to do what it has always done." Cassie Green, Washington College

  9. #9

    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    Not knowing how to join in, mistaking the meaning of things said, sensory issues etc. have always been very bad for me, too. And I never had any problems socializing with people in my family and immediate neighbourhood either, meaning familiar people. But put me into a crowd of strangers and I'm utterly lost and unable to cope, especially if there are lights and loud music.

    It's a misconception that autistic people CAN'T socialize. I can do it for a limited amount of time, but it exhausts me. If I go to a party it might take me a week to recover. But I can do it if I have to. Obviously I can't avoid my own children's weddings. Two got married last summer (one in June and one in August). I wasn't able to attend any social events for months after the second one!

    He really sounds a lot like AS, and not at all like TS to me. The limb moving part is typical of AS, whereas, as Janet said, those things like eye blinking, nose twitching etc. would be typical of a kid your son's age with TS.

    I advise you to contact the autism society, to find a doctor who specializes in diagnosing kids with autism. It's important that he learns to read body language better, and be taught how to fit in to an extent. That's the kind of thing that would really have helped me as a kid.

    I want to add that I am not trying to diagnose anybody, because that's impossible in a forum, and I'm not an expert.

    But when suspecting TS and AS in myself, I did a ton of research on both (and I don't know if I'll ever be done with this research), and know what I am talking about. Plus, of course, having TS and AS myself makes me understand what it's like to have both.

    Janet, it sounds to me like your son has a good dose of autism in him, and maybe you do, too. You might want to do some research on Asperger Syndrome to see what I mean.
    German citizen, married to a Canadian for 28 years, four daughters, one son, eight grandchildren (and one on the way).

  10. #10

    Default How do I know if these are tics or normal behaviour?

    get him to a doc,wont hurt to get it checked out
    my brother is autistic,he toe walked for years,they thought he had tight tendonds at first and said he was deaf due to lack of speech
    then he was diagnosed with severe autism
    jo

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