Hope was 8 years old when her mother first noticed her “rolling her eyes back in her head multiple times a day.” Her teacher noted on her report card that Hope was disrespectful at times and often rolled her eyes when she spoke to her. Concerned Hope was becoming increasingly defiant, Mom scheduled an appointment with me. Upon meeting with Hope, I first noticed that she repeatedly brought her hands to her nose and sniffed. Mom reported this behavior had started a few weeks prior for no apparent reason. When I asked Hope if she could stop the behavior, she looked defeated and said “sometimes. If I try really hard I can stop it for a while, but it always comes back and I don’t know I’m doing it.”
Hope had developed something called Tic disorder. Later we would change her diagnosis to Tourette’s syndrome as she developed a vocal tic of clearing her throat numerous times an hour. Tourette’s Syndrome is diagnosed when a person has both motor and vocal tics and often times tic disorder will develop into Tourette’s syndrome, although not always.
Hope was started on medication to help her control the vocal and motor tics. She also started therapy to learn some behavioral modification techniques to help her control her tics. Hope slowly improved and now her tics are much less dramatic and happen much less frequently. She told me the last time we met that she feels “much better about myself and my friends don’t make fun of me any more.” She’s also become an awesome advocate for Tic and Tourette’s syndrome awareness and at the age of 9 has actually spoken to groups of kids and adults about her experiences! “I hope to help other people see that tics are just something that happen to some people and that they don’t make you bad or weird,” she told me.
What WellPsyche Patients Are Saying
“Joseph started moving his arm in this odd, repetitive way one day. At first we thought it might be injured but the odd movements continued, despite a trip to our pediatrician who examined his arm and said everything looked fine. Then he started snorting through his nose, up to 100 times an hour sometimes. He didn’t even seem aware that he was doing it most of the time. We tried taking away his electronics, then bribing him but nothing helped. I was relieved when our psychiatrist told us he had Tourette’s Syndrome because now I knew what was happening and how to support him.”
Tic Talk: Living with Tourette Syndromeby Dylan Lee Peters
Tic Disorders: A Guide for Parents and Professionalsby Tara Murphy, Uttom Chowdhury
Why Do You Do That? A Book about Tourette Syndrome for Children and Young Peopleby Mary Robertson, Uttom Chowdhury
I Can't Stop! A Story about Tourette's Syndromeby Holly L. Niner
As a parent, you want the best for your children. You may be concerned or have questions about certain behaviors they exhibit and how to ensure they get help. We have provided some guidance and resources to get you started.