With Tics Under Control Our Son Will Have a Happy Birthday

This past May, my seven-year-old son started to have chronic, frequent head-rolling tics. It was initially caused by a stressful sports competition. He is a perfectionist and he put a lot of pressure on himself and he even had a panic attack while we were there. After the competition, it took about a week or two for the panic attacks to stop, but the tics stayed.

We caught it right away and within a few weeks we had the Natural Treatments for Tics and Tourette’s book from your organization. For almost a year before this he had been clearing his throat repeatedly, but we didn’t recognize it as a tic until now. We also took him to a massage therapist and a whole-body chiropractor to help calm down his system.

With coaching from the book, we eliminated gluten, corn, dairy and sugar from his diet. Within a few weeks we noticed a huge difference. We’ve also eliminated preservatives, colors and artificial everything. I read all of the ingredients for all of the food we buy him. When we first started the diet I kept a food journal for about a month and wrote everything down–good days, bad days, etc.

Corn was the last food that we took away. When the corn was removed the tics dramatically decreased. They aren’t gone completely, but man, what a difference. Instead of a tic a couple times a minute, it’s every hour to a few hours. We realized corn, wheat and sugar cane are all in the grass family and that his system doesn’t respond well to it. We are in the beginning process of reintroducing foods back into his diet. We are trying cheese this week—so far so good!

I’ll tell ya, he has been a trooper. He doesn’t really complain much about the diet. His biggest concern is not having a birthday cake for his 8th birthday next week. We found a local vegan, gluten-free bakery that is making special cupcakes for him, minus the frosting. My mom is testing out different agave nectar based frostings, without too much success so far  (but she is determined!)

I started the diet right when school ended, so for the whole summer I’ve had complete control over what he ate. School is starting next week, too. I’m worried about all of the treats and cupcakes and things that will be there. I plan on giving the teacher a treat stache for my son full of fruit leathers and things I know he can eat. That way, anytime another student brings treats to school he will be able to eat something special as well.

I recommend that at least one other person in the house do the diet along with the child. I’m doing it with my son so he doesn’t feel like he’s alone. (Although I do cheat sometimes when I’m without him.) My hubby has his own diet restrictions due to other health issues, like mold exposure and possible Lyme disease, otherwise he would join us. It’s a team effort for sure! His grandparents are also heavily supportive.

Also, no one in the family says the word “tics” in front of him EVER! We just tell him something like, “We’re testing out this food to see if you react or if it makes you feel better.” We never pay attention to the tics when they are happening.

In addition to working with his diet, we’ve completely eliminated cartoons and playing video games, but he didn’t spend much time playing video games beforehand anyway. We also limit his time watching Netflix on my phone. The phone seems to be a trigger as well.  He can watch Netflix on the TV or the computer, but for some reason the small screen affects him. We encourage him to watch slower TV shows, like documentaries and nature shows. Some of the faster, sporadic shows (non-cartoons) effect him too. He also took a few months off of sports as well to calm his system down. He just started going back to his sport, and while he is there the tics reappear, but they go away by the time we are home.  This is a tough one to limit because he needs exercise to relieve stress, to be social and to be healthy. But one thing is for sure, no more competitions!

Other exciting activities can also increase his tics temporarily, and they go away after an hour or so.

My husband is very allergic to chemicals, so our home was already a chemical-free zone. I clean with vinegar only!

We did add magnesium to his diet with the CALM powder. We don’t give it to him every night, but we do give it to him often. We also give him acidophilus. We also got a number of tests done. PANDAS (negative), SPECTRA CELL (which is a complete blood work that tells any vitamin deficiencies  he may have. Magnesium was fine, actually. B vitamins were not.) We then took a saliva test for him through This is a DNA ancestry test, but it also tells you what your body can’t detox or absorb. We found out my son doesn’t absorb vitamin B well and he doesn’t absorb gluten either.

Luckily, husband is a neurofeedback/biofeedback therapist. He often does biofeedback, breathing techniques and meditation with our son. We meditate as a family sometimes as well.

We are still on this journey and we’re not giving up. It’s a complete lifestyle change. But it’s worth it when it comes to his well being. I’m so happy that we’ve seen a change. It’s not over yet, but in just a matter of a few months, we’ve come a long way and we’re willing to do whatever it takes.

12 replies
  1. vpsan
    vpsan says:

    Could you please share the diet you followed for corn/gluten/Dairy free? Any specific brands for the treats as my daughter loves sugar and it is very hard to keep her away from it.

    • Kelly
      Kelly says:

      HI! I feel your pain. My son LOVES sugar as well. We’ve eaten a lot of fruit this summer. There is a machine called YONANA that makes fruit “ice cream.” Frozen bananas are the base and you can add frozen organic strawberries, peaches, etc. You can get it at Target. This has been a life saver!

      We just tested out Island Stretch Fruit Leather last week and he works great with it.

      We use a lot of rice pasta. We tried quinoa pasta, but had to stop because the brand we were using had corn in it.

      Next week, after trying dairy this week, I was going to make fruit juice popsicles. We’ve been worried about the high sugar content in juice and haven’t given him any this summer. But I promised him I’d start reintroducing foods. You’ll never know unless you try, right.

      We also eat Nut Thin Rice crackers. Read the packages carefully, a few of the flavors have sugar.

  2. Van
    Van says:

    This article is very helpful to me! I have TS/OCD (tourettes syndrome with OCD). Reading about your sons issue with corn made me feel less alone in my dietary needs, which are very limiting. I cannot have corn, gluten, and anything animal derived, as a result I have to shop for all of my food in Whole Foods, or Cornucopia (Sayville, Long Island, NY).

    I must add that this is not the first time which I have heard of corn having negative affects on people like us! There is definately something in corn, but what? I know when I eat surgary forms of corn I become exceptionally depressed, my tics worsen, and that leads to a panic attack. Starchy forms of corn affect my OCD symptoms more severely than my hand and finger tics, but my mood is also affected quite seriously. I become extremely angry to the point were I will throw tables across a room! Scary.

    To Kelly: Thankyou for sharing your process with the fruit leathers and your Yonanas machine! I enjoy the same fruit leathers myself-they are a great alternative to fruit roll-ups! I have been considering purchasing a Yonanas machine for my mothers house, and now seeing how it has helpped you and your child I may get one! =3:

  3. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Van, those are tough reactions. Sorry you have to deal with them!

    One idea is that the corn may have molds in it or it may the GMO effect. I’m not sure.

    My husband is on a very strict diet – like you no gluten, no animal byproducts, not much fruit (blueberries and raspberries only). We are constantly talking and thinking about what foods to eat. It’s a daily conversation in our house. Van, please don’t feel alone! We also mostly shop at Whole Foods too. It’s really the only place around us that has a lot of organic and gluten free variety. We do give my son potatoes sometimes and he seems to be okay with them.

    We tried the popsicles this last weekend without much luck. He ate a lot of them and we definately noticed a difference. If we do it again, we will only give him one every week or two. He just got over excited and kept eating them. Who can blame him? A whole summer without popsicles! haha.

  4. RoGu
    RoGu says:

    Has anyone tried Tic Tamer? They keep advertising in this website, so I wonder if it works? Is a natural Homeopathic tic remedy.

  5. Sheila Rogers DeMare, MS
    Sheila Rogers DeMare, MS says:

    Thank you for your helpful input, Kelly and Van. It’s tough having a limited diet, but it can so often be worth the effort. I was just reading some research on cancer and the link to pesticides and other toxins; going organic can sure help more than just tics. It’s such a good lifestyle in general. Good luck to you!

  6. Sonia
    Sonia says:

    Hi kelly
    Was also wondering if u can share ur diet with me. My 9 year old son has touretts and his tics r getting worse. Now he is doing a 360 turn when he is entering and leaving a door . Along with head jerking and vocal tics. I am fairly new with all this foods he can and can not have and have been going to a natural pathic doctor as well. I’m just confused on the corn ? Is it all labels that say corn ? Like corn syrup. It’s probably a silly question I know. I am also going to check out that place in sayville which I live nearby. Hope u can help. Thanks in advance

  7. Ramya
    Ramya says:

    Kelly please share me the diet, my 4 year old son is having multiple tics, please share your ideas it will be great help.

  8. Eve
    Eve says:

    I share a similar story. My 10 year old son has had significant tics since age 2. I found the Natural Treatments for Tics and Tourettes book very informative and helpful. I have always wanted to try to lessen tics through nonpharmacologic means.
    About 8 months ago, we took away all artificial colors, flavors and took away gluten,dairy, and corn. I have been amazed at the improvement. Not only have the tics almost vanished, but migraines improved, hyperactivity and agitation improved and overall mood as well. A couple of months ago I tried to reintroduce nonGMO organic popcorn (since we all LOVE popcorn) and it did not go well. Even he felt the difference.
    It is not an easy diet to follow, but its been SO worth it!

    • Sheila Rogers DeMare, MS
      Sheila Rogers DeMare, MS says:

      Hi Eve, the change you have seen in your son since implementing the interventions you mention is fantastic. It must have been so difficult to deal with tics in your son from such an early age. He’s lucky to have you for a parent–a mom willing to take the time to look into all these issues and then make the needed adjustments. It’s not easy, as you say. But as you would know, it’s so encouraging when you see the positive changes taking place. Your son is at a good age to begin to understand what these items/foods can do to his body, based on his own reactions to them. Good luck in your continued efforts. (And thanks for the comment about our book!)


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