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Is this a tic?


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My 11 year old son with TS has been doing something new. He says it's a tic. I'm not so sure.


He has been pulling his hair. We might have seen a little of this recently. But Saturday and today it really got excessive. It seems to mainly happen when he is bored. He starts by lightly pulling at or running his hands through his hair. It gradually gets worse until he is manically throwing his hands at his head and pulling (or sometimes not pulling). It looks like he is beating himself up. It got bad after several hours in the car today. We finally got him to stop when his sister gave him her phone and he played a game. That occupied his hands and distracted him.


I am concerned that it might be something called "Trichotillomania‎" which is a compulsive hair pulling disorder.


To my untrained, uninformed eye, this behavior doesn't seem exactly like a tic or tricho. The reason it doesn't seem like a tic to me is that it is not a repetitive motion. By that, I mean that his hands are not duplicating their movements. The motions seem random and haphazard.


Any thoughts appreciated.




Edited by BigAl
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In addition to my ds's tics, he has a few strange habits that don't look like tics...for example, he will play with his lips (squeezing, squishing, tracing them with his fingers, etc). This started when his tics started, but has always stood out to me as different than this single-repetitive-movement tics.


Tricho involves actually pulling the hair out. If your son is just pulling on his hair, I would say it seems more like a behavior or a compulsion. But the fact that your son believes it's a tic indicates that it is something he feels an uncontrollable need to do.

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If he has TS, this could be what is known as Tourettic OCD...where tics and OCD symptoms "morph"


Trichotillomania is very characteristic of OCD, and OCD very commonly is a co-morbid disorder with TS


Tics do not have to be exactly repetitive...they can be somewhat random...and especially when they are falling into the Tourettic OCD category

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Thanks Chemar and Crunchfly


I guess I don't really understand. Chemar, it sounds like you are suggesting that this might be sort of a tic/sort of OCD.


Crunchfly, your son's behavior does sound similar in that it's not tic like as I know tics. I guess my son can be experiencing something other than tics with his TS.


I'm wondering if he has a whole other syndrome that I have to try to help him with. I really just wish I knew what to do. Things are getting worse and I can't seem to help him.

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Tourettic OCD is considered a specific type of OCD only occurring with TS, where tics can "morph" into OCD symptoms and OCD symptoms can become tics.... we were first made aware of this "subtype" of OCD by a pediatric psychiatrist when my son was much younger, and we were frequently puzzled by trying to differentiate what was a tic and what was OCD. I have subsequently seen quite a bit of research and other documentation on it.


If you Google Tourettic OCD you will get a lot of info on it.

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