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Thread: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Chandler, AZ
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    45
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    Cool Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    Hi everyone,

    I am TS/ADD/OCD, and my 9 year old son is TS/ADHD. We sometimes find ourselves "catching" each other's tics. We laugh about it regularly, but it is definitely very frustrating at times.

    If I see him doing something, I have to try it out, and then it becomes part of my repertiore. Ugh! He says the same thing happens to him. We have kind of a deal that we don't talk about our particular tics unless we have to, in order to save each other as much grief as possible.

    Lately, I've been having a very irritating and distressing breathing tic where I have to breathe in and get that "feeling" of catching my breath...like the feeling you get when you yawn...and of course it leads to gasping and hyperventilating, which makes it all worse.

    I always share my frustrations about my tics with my husband, but I've made him promise not to mention this breathing one out loud in front of my son because I know as soon as he starts to consciously examine his breathing, he'll start doing it too.

    I also notice that we share *a lot* of the same tics. I sometimes wonder if particular tics are genetic along with TS in general....or if we subconsciously copy each other. Many of his tics are the same as my "lifelong" tics - the ones that have been with me since childhood.

    The last thought I'll share is that I have a hard time reading about other people's tics in forums like these because I end up trying them out. My tics are *always* worse when I'm reading a TS board, or article, or anything. Understandable, but funny. Grrrrr. I love you all, but I don't want your tics.

    Anyone else notice these things??

    -Christine

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Question Re: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    It would be interesting to hear the input of others on this question.

    My opinion is that tics are generated from within and are not learned behaviour.

    Over the years I have met others with Tourette and though I found myself sometimes trying out their tic, it never became one of my own.

    However my tics have changed and evelved over the years while some have been part of my repertoire ever since childhood.

    It's a good question and I'm eager to hear from others.

    Thanks Christine!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    albuquerque, New Mexico
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    Default Re: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    When I was in the second grade, I heard a story about another kid whose [DEF]achilles tendon[/DEF](back of ankle) had been severed. I had never really thought about it much, but soon the thought of the same thing happening to me was horrifying. My tics began to make me start kicking the tendon with the other foot, trying to break it. Of course, it's a very strong tendon, and it would be almost impossible for me to have actually succeeded but it didn't stop me from trying. That tic lasted a couple of months then went away never to come back again. :Big Grin:
    Last edited by Steve; March 16, 2007 at 06:31 PM. Reason: spell/def

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Ottawa, Canada
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    Default Re: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    Kablu,

    soon the thought of the same thing happening to me was horrifying. My tics began to make me start kicking the tendon with the other foot, trying to break it.
    I am not a Psychologist and I stand to be corrected, but what you describe sounds more like a compulsion, behaviour associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder ([DEF]OCD[/DEF]).

    Of course we know that compulsive behaviour can be associated with Tourette and the distinction between tics and compulsions is sometimes difficult to tell apart except by a medical specialist.

    Some examples of compulsive behaviour I have heard from people with Tourette are placing one's foot on a train track as a train approaches, and this particularly dangerous one...licking the mouthpiece of a public telephone.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    I have always said that tics are contagious, but agree with Steve that they generally don't stick around. At each annual conference, I know that I am going to tic more than normal being around other ticcers...and being in such a comfortable welcoming environment. If you can't tic at a TS conference, where can you tic?

    Anyways, I do pick up other peoples tics to "try them out for size" but after a couple of days of returning from the conference, I am back to my regular tics. Which as Steve said, some change and evolve over time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    St. John's NL
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    Default Re: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    This is quite common at national conferences that we adopt the tics of others. From what has been shared by many who have experienced this, within 2-3 weeks things settle and the newly adopted tics disappear. The interesting thing is that regardless of how severe or mild your TS is, this happens to most of us so it is obviously involuntary and not a conscious decision to try the tic someone else displays... but as Tall Ticer said we really do "try them on for size" unconsciously
    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

  7. #7

    Question Re: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    Hello Christine!

    Greetings from Nova Scotia. I have always shared your curiosity over whether or not certain tics may have a genetic connection. My 9yo son was diagnosed ts+ when he was 4, but any time I've brought up the possibility that I have tics of my own, his doctors always blew me off. Ever since I was small, I have twirled my hair & chewed my lip. Other tics have come & gone over the years, but these two have stuck with me for over 30 years. My son rarely twirls his hair (it's too short usually), but my sister has had the same two "habits" off & on for many years as well! (she's pretty normal otherwise)
    Go figure! Maybe there's a thesis in here somewhere...Anyone?

    Arlene

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Default Re: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    Arlene,

    Welcome to the TSFC Forum! We're always happy to hear from folks from Nova Scotia. At present there is no TSFC Chapter in Nova Scotia, which is why we constantly hope for a group to be formed in your Province.

    any time I've brought up the possibility that I have tics of my own, his doctors always blew me off.
    Do you feel this response from the doctors is because of unfamiliarity with Tourette? One of the frustrations we see is the surprising lack of clinical interest among many physicians in the disorder and base their diagnosis on inaccurate or dated information.

    I don't know of data to support a genetic pattern of tics, but there may be. It's a subject worthy of some research.

    Perhaps others have some comment.

    Thanks for joining us and we hope you find the Forum helpful.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Ontario
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    Default Re: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    Arlene:

    Welcome to the forum!
    PJK

  10. #10

    Default Re: Does anyone else find other people's tics "contagious"?

    Welcome to the forum Arlene!

    You bring up a common issue. Many people who are now adults are self-diagnosed. It continually boggles my mind that entire generations of people grew up with TS and no one ever thought to say: hey maybe we should investigate why little Johnny is having constant and continual difficulties that others do not seem to have instead of punishing him repeatedly for the same "mistakes".

    My husband struggled for years with family, peers, school and repeated appointments with doctors including a neurologist. Only now that my son is diagnosed have we come to the conclusion that he likely has TS himself.

    I noticed my husband's tics the moment I met him but I never said a word about them for many years. I just thought it was something he did and it was no big deal to me.

    Over the last couple of years his TS has gotten a bit worse and he decided to seek out a diagnosis. He was immediately told by the first doctor he saw that he COULD NOT have TS because he was an adult and TS was a childhood issue.

    Just goes to show you how far we still need to go with education and advocacy.

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