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Thread: Confused about whether it is a tic.

  1. #1

    Question Confused about whether it is a tic.

    Hi , I'm a mom of a 10yo boy with TS and ADHD. When he is overstimulated, usually on the happy end, he tends to throw his whole body around. Sometimes he just drops to the ground and wiggles and flails, sometimes he rams his head into the couch with a running start, and other times he throws himself onto someone, like a tackle of sorts (usually his sister or mom or dad). I've asked him if this was a tic, or something he could control, but he is new to understanding TS, and he isn't able to really tell me. I can't imagine it is something he could control, because it is so wierd that who would want to do something like that in front of everybody? Is is more from the ADHD side, or doesn't it matter? He is on Concerta for his ADHD, and it is definitely more noticeable of a problem when he goes off his meds for a day or two. Is there any point in trying to figure out what is coming from TS and what is ADHD?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    557

    Default Re: Confused about whether it is a tic.

    I am usually in the camp of 'does it really matter?' when it comes to figuring out whether this is a tic or ADHD, however, when you are still in the early stages of sorting things out, there are good reasons to try to sort out what is what.

    Tics are normally repetitive behaviours. In the case of a simple tic -- for example, eye blinking -- you are going to see the blinking happen repeatedly. Sometimes you can get a bout of several blinks in a row, other times you may see only a few blinks, and at other times there may be no tic showing up at all.

    Even with complex tics, the behaviour is repetitive. Jumping -- which is a complex tic -- can show up like the eye blinking -- lots, a little, or absent.

    With both simple or complex tics, the tics can become worse when a child is over-stimulated, stressed, etc.

    What you are describing does not quite fit into the standard type of movements you see for tics. It seems to be more impulsive behaviour -- possibly stemming from the ADHD. It could, however, be a combination of factors. Tics are often described as a build up of energy. The tics are one way the energy gets released. Your son could be having the urge to tic and also have so much energy pent up because of his ADHD, excitement level, etc. that what starts out as the urge to do a couple of tics results in a full-body burst of energy. The fact that the behaviour increases when your son takes a day or two break from his medication seems to tie back with this being related to the ADHD.

    Since you have started your son on medication for his ADHD you should make sure that you report the behaviour to the doctor who is managing the medication. It is also possible that there are some other neurologies that are not yet diagnosed in the mix with the TS and ADHD. One possibility is obsessive compulsive behaviours.

    Does your doctor have experience dealing with TS?
    Cathy
    Forum Moderator
    TSFC Homepage

  3. #3

    Default Re: Confused about whether it is a tic.

    The doctor in question is a psychiatrist, and yes, she does have experience with TS. She seemed more concerned about treating his ADHD however, because she and I hadn't notices many tics that really impede him. We have just reached a point where we are pretty comfortable with the meds and how they are working. They don't seem to have increased tics, which is surprising considering they type of meds they are.
    I would have to agree with you that it must be an impulsive energy release. The doctor did diagnose mild OCD and Sensory issues along with TS and ADHD. I am not experienced with psychiatrists, and am not sure what I should expect her to be doing on our visits now that the meds are figured out.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    1,147

    Default Re: Confused about whether it is a tic.

    Hi Denisekh

    Welcome.

    The doctor did diagnose mild OCD and Sensory issues along with TS and ADHD.
    This behavior of banging his head or throwing himself onto someone could be related to his sensory issues. If he needs that pressure or force he could benefit from a referral to occupational therapy. The OT can work through this with him. sensory issues are like tics in that they can wax and wane between being hyper sensitive and hypo sensitive. Eg one day a hug could feel like being hurt, other days the hug might need to be a bear hug type to satisfy the need.

    something to explore...
    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
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    557

    Default Re: Confused about whether it is a tic.

    not sure what I should expect her to be doing on our visits now that the meds are figured out.
    The doctors that followed our son when he was on medication for this ADHD, etc. were looking for how things were going in the home and at school. We usually had questions about behaviour, school work etc. They were looking both for improvements and changes. They were also checking for side effects -- like tics getting worse, etc.

    We used the checklists that are available on the TSFC website and in the TSFC handbooks to track his various symptoms and report them to the doctor. We also asked our son's teachers to occasionally fill in the checklists as well so the doctors could compare current symptoms against the baseline pre and post medication.

    Sometimes it seemed like everything was moving along nicely and that we were wasting our time going in for regular appointments, but then we would hit a road bump -- change in behaviour, change in other symptoms, etc. It made it easier for the doctors to figure out what action to take when they were tracking what was going on.

    Also, you should be pushing your doctor for some direction on other strategies that you can start putting into the mix. Though medication does relieve some of the ADHD and other symptoms, the underlying problem is still there. It will be easier for your son to learn how to manage his various symptoms with the help of medication. If/when his symptoms increase, or if the medication is no longer effective (or, as in the case of my son -- he chooses not to be medicated) then he will have some of the necessary skills built up to help him manage his own symptoms.
    Cathy
    Forum Moderator
    TSFC Homepage

  6. #6

    Default Re: Confused about whether it is a tic.

    Thanks for the advice. I think I'll have her help him try to understand more about TS, and what tics are so that when I need him to help me understand if his behaviour is tic related he will be able to tell me. It is hard to know how to navigate parenting when one is unsure about what is controllable and what isn't.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Confused about whether it is a tic.

    Hello,

    My son Ethan also head buts the couch, jumps on people in a weird way almost pinning them down for a few seconds and leaps almost for evenings on end from one couch to coffee table to the other couch. He falls often, but its obvious he cannot stop it. Ethan is OCD with his tourettes. I'm glad to have learnt that maybe an OT can help with sensory issues. We try to keep Ethan as physically active as possible, play soccer in the hallway, hockey, hide and go seek----I figure if he can't hurt himself as badly doing these activities, but maybe its exhasting him too much----I have no idea.

    Its very helpful to hear similar situations and realize we are not alone.
    Sincerely,
    Charlene

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