The joys and heartaches of raising a son with Tourettes. We've been through a lot and learned a lot.
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How is everyone tonight?
Did your son suffer from simple tics or were they complex tics?
He actually suffered with both simple and complex. He didn't just twitch. He had complex vocal tics.
Was there any stimulant or any reason which aggravated his tics?
Stimulants didn't aggravate his tics. They were aggravated by stress and everything caused him stress when he was younger.
How many years has it been since your son was diagnosed with Tourette?
It's been 9 years since he was diagnosed.
When did your son start showing symptoms of Tourette Syndrome?
He started showing symptoms as a toddler. At about three he would thrash so much at night that him and his mattress would wind up on the floor.
What were the good experiences raising him when he suffered from this disorder?
The good experiences have been learning how to make friends, being able to be out in public without an anxiety attack. Watching him make good decisions for himself among others.
That's wonderful! I wish your son luck in everything!
Does anyone in your extended family on both sides have Tourette Syndrome?
The only other person in the family that has Tourettes is my husband. Nobody in my family does and we don't know about his extended family.
Do all who suffer from Tourette Disorder require medical treatment?
Simple answer No. Tourettes varies in severity from person to person. Just like anything else.
Do medicines help control the intensity or frequency of tics?
I'm sure there are meds that help with that. I chose not to use meds to suppress his tics. I only used meds to help with the anger.
Was there any change in the pattern or intensity of his symptoms as he grew up?
As he got older and started understanding more of what was going on things got better. That's because he didn't feel pressured to try and fit in anymore. Kids with Tourettes want to be like all the other kids and don't understand why they aren't. That's a lot of stress, it would be on anyone.
I'm sure your boy does manage great!
Was your child able to suppress or control his tics?
He was able to suppress them for a couple hours at a time when he was younger. Now he feels no need to suppress them because all the people he's around understand.
What advice would you offer to parents whose children suffer from Tourette Syndrome?
My advice to parents would be keep a good journal of things that happen day to day. See what triggers worse episodes and try to find a different way to approach that task. Reward good behavior Everytime even if it's with something simple. Don't lose your temper. It's not your fault. It's out of everyone's control, even the child's.
Thanks a lot!
Did your son have a hard time making friends and living a normal life?
He had a really hard time making and keeping friends when he was young. Now he does ok. He knows enough about how his Tourettes affects him that he can explain it to people when something comes up. He is able to live a normal life. He just turned 18 this year.
That's fantastic! Congrats!
What causes tics to worsen and increase in frequency or go on for longer?
Stress causes them to get worse. The problem is you never know what is going to cause stress. That can change from day to day. Frustration contributes a lot.
What was your motto while raising your son suffering from TS?
Have patience. That was my motto. He didn't have control over what he did most of the time. I had to have a ton of patience and I had to learn when he did have control and when he didn't. That wasn't always easy.
Anyway, it's allright now! Great that both you and your son find a way to deal with this problem. All the best!
What did you do on early about your child’s Tourette Syndrome?
We dealt with things the best we could. Usually it was distraction from whatever was frustrating him. Later it was ignoring bad behaviors and rewarding good ones. Lots of counseling, not just for him but for me as well.
Is Tourette Syndrome totally curable with medical intervention?
Tourettes is not curable! Medication only treats the syptoms. Even then it's a process to find the right med or combination of meds to help effectively.
What challenges did you face raising your child who have Tourette Syndrome?
Parenting in general was a challenge. There were times I just didn't know how to handle him. School was a challenge. The schools I had him in got to a point that they would call me and tell me to come get him because they couldn't handle him. Everything was a challenge. We didn't know from one day to the next what would happen.
What has been your learning curve with your child and coping this problem?
I'm not exactly sure. I know I tried everything that was suggested I try. It was a process of trial and error for sure. All in all I think it took at least 2 years to find the right parenting style and techniques to best help him.
What did you do on a personal basis to help your child overcome Tourette Syndrome?
On a personal basis I had to become the parent that he needed. That entailed trying multiple parenting methods and talking to counselors trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. We discovered through trial and error that we had to completely ignore the bad or disruptive behaviors unless he was becoming a danger to himself or others and reward good behavior every time. I had to learn to have way more patience than what I did. It wasn't easy but I did it and actually started babysitting other kids that had special needs.