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Tics in children - how do we handle it?

(12 Posts)
Bimblepops Tue 26-Jan-16 22:28:09

I'm just after some advice about how other people have handled tics (both verbal and physical) on their children.

DS2 is 5yrs old and developed a snorting tic around 1yr ago when suffering with a heavy cold. It stayed for a couple of months and then vanished. He was in nursery at the time and the tic occurred at home and at nursery.

DS started school in Sept, loves it and is thriving - happy, popular and doing really well. He got another heavy cold in October, the snorting tic reappeared and has since been joined by a variety of other verbal tics and, in the last 6 weeks, physical tics.

Talking to DS about it (trying not to make a big deal about it), he is conscious of them, seems to enjoy "doing" them, but also says "my brain makes me do it".

We've spoken to school about it today (at my request) and they're conscious of it, but not overly concerned - it's not impacting his education, his friends don't seem to notice and he doesn't seem bothered. They advised going to GP and getting referral to paediatrician, which we're doing tomorrow morning.

Dah and I are just trying to work out how we handle it with DS2... We've been trying to restrict the tics, but now read that this can make it worse. We are trying to lay down some guidelines about when he can't tic though, eg at meal times.

Really I guess I'm just hoping to hear from other parents/professionals as to how they've handled it. DS2 is such a bright, funny, lively, confident little boy, I just don't want him to become paranoid about his tics or his behaviour.

Any help/advice is gratefully accepted!

Fairylea Tue 26-Jan-16 22:32:21

I don't think you should make any restrictions or comments about the tics at all to be honest. It will just make your son feel really self conscious and I would imagine he feels very conscious of it already. My son is nearly 4 and has asd and some tics and I never mention it at all, it's just part of who he is and he also stims (does a lot of repetitive moments to self soothe) and I ignore that too, although I do sometimes use them as a warning sign he is getting stressed by something.

If someone with tics tries to suppress them it can lead to a "tic attack" which can be very debilitating - lots of tics all in one go. If the tics need to happen much better for them just to happen.

Bimblepops Tue 26-Jan-16 23:31:40

Thanks Fairylea, we've generally been ignoring it, but as it's ramped up, it's got a bit more disruptive (eg at mealtimes), so that's when we've tried to rein it in.

I guess we just leave it and see what happens. I keep looking for a pattern or a stresser for it, but there doesn't seem to be anything.

lozwil Wed 27-Jan-16 12:34:08

My ds who is also 5 has tics and has had since he was about 3 they include throat clearing, grunting (which lasted about 18 mnts and had thankfully now stopped), pulling up his socks all the time going out was a nightmare we had to stop every couple of mins and repeating questions 3 times and if he was interuterine he would start all over again and hand washing. I think he is a bit older than your ds2 ad he is in yr 1.

We took him to gp who wasn't concerned and that it is more common in boys than girls and most grow out of it.

We asked him why he did them and his answer was I am just made this way , we noticed that they increased when he was going back to school after holidays or was going to be learning something new or going somewhere new it was just his was of dealing with the nerves & stress he loves school and has loads of friends an they have now started to tail off we are just now left with him checking with us that he has washed his hands and when we say he has he doesn't feel the need to do it again.

All you can do is try not to make a big deal out of it, but do not ignore it completely and make sure he knows he can talk to you about things and hopefully when he finds another way of dealing with stress or new situations they will fade away.

TalkingToaster Wed 27-Jan-16 13:06:43

My DS has had a few tics, and the advice I was given by a specialist nurse (who we see for a related issue) was to completely ignore them and not to mention them at all. It was very hard at first to ignore, especially as I really don't like repetitive noises. My relatives did find it very difficult to stop commenting on the tics, and I did have to glare at them a few times.... I had to also tell his school to ignore the tics as well.

The tics did go away completely, and he hasn't had any for a few years now.

Bimblepops Wed 27-Jan-16 13:44:36

Thanks, Lozwil and Talking. It's really useful hearing other parents experiences and to be reassured that it is more common that we'd initially realised.

tacal Wed 27-Jan-16 14:18:47

I don't think my son has had tics but he does have repetitive movements he does when he is anxious. For example, touching his eye lashes frequently, clearing his throat, stopping frequently to check his shoes are fastened. Stamping on one foot with the other foot. There have been many.

As someone else has said, I use it as a sign that ds is anxious and make life as relaxed as possible for him. I ignore the repetitive movements and they eventually disappear. Sometimes it feels as if they are around for a very long time and I do worry.

If they are causing problems then I might try to adjust them. I may suggest a safer or a less disruptive alternative. When ds was touching his eye lashes frequently it caused problems because it meant he was not looking where he was going so I suggested he touch a different part of his face when he was outside so he could still see where he was going.

For me, reducing ds' anxiety is the key to stopping his repetitive movements. But I don't think these are tics so it could be different for you. If they are causing problems you would be best to speak to a specialist who could tell you if they are tics and give you advice.

Good luck

babypup Fri 29-Jan-16 10:58:21

Hi. My son developed a blinking tic when he turned 4, it was very obvious. It lasted 3 months solid then disappeared, I was obviously relieved. However, over the past 3 years it has resurfaced every few months or so, for varying degrees of time and with varying degrees of severity. There have been a few other things thrown in, some sock pulling and frequent urination over the years too, but the only true motor tic has been blinking, nothing vocal thus far. It's hard, when it comes back I always get really stressed, it loos so uncomfortable and now he's nearly 7 his peers are a little more aware and comments which is hard, as tics are best ignored. But, our strategy is to ignore, ignore, ignore....that's the advice we have had. I also can't find an apparent stressor when they start/stop. At Christmas, our son was also diagnosed with a type of OCD, he was having bad thoughts (his description) and rituals of checking things. During this type his eye tic came back and has not left since. We are seeing a child psychologist to tackle the OCD behaviors, and have spoken with CAMHS - their advice on the co-ocurring tic was just to ignore it, don't worry. It's the OCD thats very hard to deal with. My heart goes out to any parent dealing with a child that tics, it can be hard to watch, and frustrating, as our instinct as mums is to 'fix' - but with tics we just need to ride out the storm I think. xxx

lozwil Sat 30-Jan-16 09:51:14

Baby pup, I was wondering if my ds was developing ocd I wonder if it's relating to his tics, he has always been funny about getting his hands dirty and started handwashing a lot we tried to ignore it in the end we had to talk to him as his hands were getting sore, our GP said he would grow out of it like the other tics but I'm not so sure, he also has to put his toys back in exactly the same place he got them from otherwise he has a meltdown might have to go na k to gp's again and have a chat she is lovely but not so good with mental health stuff ...

babypup Sat 30-Jan-16 10:39:21

It does sound a bit OCD, and often kids with tics have OCD or vice versa. Worth a chat for sure. My lad seems to be responding well to CBT for his OCD, early days though. Tics are another matter though, they just keep on going. Keep us posted and if you need any info feel free to pm me x

lozwil Sat 30-Jan-16 10:44:43

Thanks, you are right about the tics I thought we had got rid of the throat clearing and grunting but it has appeared again this morning. I am glad the CBT is working x

babypup Sun 31-Jan-16 16:20:37

Ah bless you, it's horrible when they go for a few days and come back. DS has been blinking since Boxing Day...stopped for 24 hours, which coincided with CAMHS appointment and reappeared next day! It is frustrating. I'm sort of accepting it now....and hoping he grows out of these things to some extent xx

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