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8 yr old boy with tics


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It started about 6 weeks ago when we received a phone call from the school nurse that they were "monitoring" our son because he was constantly shaking his head. They thought he might take a seizure. I immediately went to the school to check on him. We took him to our pediatrician and he thought it might be a sign of TS, but he referred us to a specialist. The appointment is not until April. Looking back over the past year or two, he has shook his head occassionaly. He said he was moving his glasses down on his nose.. I didn't really think anything of it. After 5 days, it just stopped and I thought everything was OK. He was fine for about a month, then last week it started again. Almost constantly shaking his head.

 

In the past couple of weeks I learned alot about tics and TS. I'm not sure what to expect, but here's a few more details. My son is 8 years old and one of the biggest kids in his class 4' 8" / 95lbs. He is very athletic and has excelled in all sports. He has played soccer, basketball, baseball football and wrestling. In school he does very well, always straight A's and he works ahead of his class. He does very well socially and very mature for his age.

 

I've read some posts about dental spacers. He did have teeth pulled and spacers installed about three years ago. He never really adjusted to the spacers and was always picking at them with his tongue. I don't know when the tics started, but it was definitely after theio spacers. I decided to have them removed yesterday. I also started him on the Kid Calm yesterday.

 

I have two questions for anyone that can help:

1..How much is stress a trigger? We have a daughter with cancer and like I said before, he is very mature. He knows that she can die from cancer and he does ask questions about it.

2..During this week it seems the only time he doesn't tic is when he is playing his Nintendo DS game or watching TV. I've read that they may trigger the tics, but I hate to stop him from playing or watching TV when that is the only time he doesn't tic. Do the games/TV usually cause the trigger while playing, or is it a delayed effect?

 

Thanks for any help

DC

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Hi and welcome

 

yes, it does seem that for some kids, dental work can trigger tics. There are some dentists who believe that misalignment of the TMJ (trans mandibular joints) can trigger tics. Not sure if that may be what happens with spacers etc. My son tics with anything related to tooth stuff, but recent xrays suggested he does not have a problem with TMJ so it could be other aspects of dental/neuro stuff triggering some

 

re the TV, videogames etc...some kids have extreme photosensitive issues and so for them this can be a problem. I personally do not see the need to remove these if you are not noting a direct tic triggering effect from them. We did find for my son it was more the flashing that was a problem, and we found it better to keep a daylight lamp on when he is using computer/TV/game systems as that reduces the flash effect. Also it seems that LCD screens have less of a triggering effect than CRT

 

and with stress, yes, it seems to be a big trigger for tics

 

had your son had any vaccinations prior to the tic onset? any infections, eg strep?

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Hi and welcome

 

yes, it does seem that for some kids, dental work can trigger tics. There are some dentists who believe that misalignment of the TMJ (trans mandibular joints) can trigger tics. Not sure if that may be what happens with spacers etc. My son tics with anything related to tooth stuff, but recent xrays suggested he does not have a problem with TMJ so it could be other aspects of dental/neuro stuff triggering some

 

re the TV, videogames etc...some kids have extreme photosensitive issues and so for them this can be a problem. I personally do not see the need to remove these if you are not noting a direct tic triggering effect from them. We did find for my son it was more the flashing that was a problem, and we found it better to keep a daylight lamp on when he is using computer/TV/game systems as that reduces the flash effect. Also it seems that LCD screens have less of a triggering effect than CRT

 

and with stress, yes, it seems to be a big trigger for tics

 

had your son had any vaccinations prior to the tic onset? any infections, eg strep?

 

Cheri,

Thanks for your help. The only thing I noticed recently was what I believe is ringworm. We treated it with a Clotrimazole & Betamethasone cream and it is almost gone. He does get a flu shot every year.

 

DC

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Hi there, and welcome! My son is 11 and has a few tics that started after he had dental spacers put in, as well. He still has them in as I really think they are helping keeping things in alignment in his mouth although it's obvious that he'll need braces anyway. Not sure I'm going to do braces any time soon if I really thin the spacers contributed to his tics in any way. His eye teeth don't have enough space so we keep calling him fang now that they're coming down, LOL!

 

Anyway, we find that magnesium supplementation and 50 mg of B6 seems to help calm him. Stress and allergies also seem to contribute to his tics, as well. My son plays competitive tennis and is very athletic, too. He has tics/habits that he works into his tennis game which most people don't notice ie. pulling on his shirt between points, flicking his fingers, and a shoulder shrug. He started the tics with eye blinking but we've seen quite a few since he started ticcing at age 9. Mostly, they've been minimal and don't seem to bother him too much. We have issues with anxiety and that seems to be our biggest challenge when it flares up, but for the most part he's a normal kid(is there really such a thing as normal anyway, haha?). I have always fed him a relatively clean diet and I try very hard to keep him from MSG and food dyes. High fructose corn syrup and nitrates don't seem to affect him so I do allow those on occasion.

 

Keep perusing the board here, you're bound to learn more and if you need help with the school or the teachers I'm sure there's some great advice here, too! We homeschool so I don't have to deal with that aspect of a kid's life!

 

Bonnie

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Hi DC, and welcome.

 

I am only very new to this as well, as it's coming on 4 weeks now since my daughter's tics went from the odd head shake (like your son) to near-constant shoulder shrugging, hand shaking etc. While I do not know what the underlying cause for her tics is, I do know that stress/anxiety/nervousness and excitement all contribute to the frequency of her tics.

 

I just want to say hang in there, as the wait until your appt in April may be the longest period of your life. We go back to see me daughter's paediatrician this Thursday, and this 3 week wait has been the longest, hardest time of my life. The people I have met through these boards have been a calming influence, so if I can help you in any way, please let me know. It helps so much to put your thoughts down on here.

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Hi there, and welcome! My son is 11 and has a few tics that started after he had dental spacers put in, as well. He still has them in as I really think they are helping keeping things in alignment in his mouth although it's obvious that he'll need braces anyway. Not sure I'm going to do braces any time soon if I really thin the spacers contributed to his tics in any way. His eye teeth don't have enough space so we keep calling him fang now that they're coming down, LOL!

 

Anyway, we find that magnesium supplementation and 50 mg of B6 seems to help calm him. Stress and allergies also seem to contribute to his tics, as well. My son plays competitive tennis and is very athletic, too. He has tics/habits that he works into his tennis game which most people don't notice ie. pulling on his shirt between points, flicking his fingers, and a shoulder shrug. He started the tics with eye blinking but we've seen quite a few since he started ticcing at age 9. Mostly, they've been minimal and don't seem to bother him too much. We have issues with anxiety and that seems to be our biggest challenge when it flares up, but for the most part he's a normal kid(is there really such a thing as normal anyway, haha?). I have always fed him a relatively clean diet and I try very hard to keep him from MSG and food dyes. High fructose corn syrup and nitrates don't seem to affect him so I do allow those on occasion.

 

Keep perusing the board here, you're bound to learn more and if you need help with the school or the teachers I'm sure there's some great advice here, too! We homeschool so I don't have to deal with that aspect of a kid's life!

 

Bonnie

 

Bonnie,

Thanks for your info. Do your son's tics wax and wane very quickly? It seems like as soon as I posted my first post, the tics stopped. He went a full week with constant head shaking (except when playing DS, watching TV or sleeping), to just about nothing when he woke up Saturday morning. It is now Sunday afternoon, and I probably noticed less than 20 head shakes. It started just as quick. This was his second episode where it flared up, lasted a week, the just stopped. I'm not sure if it might be PANDAS, as I am starting to read more about that. About a week before the first episode, he had a pretty severe rash behind both knees. He actually had to be taken out of a basketball game. This came a day after he was swimming in an indoor pool at a hotel. The second episode was after we noticed ringworm. I will be talking to the pediatrician tomorrow....

 

If anyone else can give me any info, I would appreciate it.

Thanks

 

DC's dad

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Hi DC, and welcome.

 

I am only very new to this as well, as it's coming on 4 weeks now since my daughter's tics went from the odd head shake (like your son) to near-constant shoulder shrugging, hand shaking etc. While I do not know what the underlying cause for her tics is, I do know that stress/anxiety/nervousness and excitement all contribute to the frequency of her tics.

 

I just want to say hang in there, as the wait until your appt in April may be the longest period of your life. We go back to see me daughter's paediatrician this Thursday, and this 3 week wait has been the longest, hardest time of my life. The people I have met through these boards have been a calming influence, so if I can help you in any way, please let me know. It helps so much to put your thoughts down on here.

 

You're right..It does help to just put down your thoughts and also to read other situations. I have also started writing my own journal, which helps me to remember things that happened a while back, but I never really associated with any real issues. I wake up every night thinking of something different.

 

Did you look into the PANDAS info?

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I did look into the PANDAS info. While she hasn't been tested for anything yet, I can see there are several factors that suggest this could be the case. She had sudden onset, adventitious movements, behavioural regression (in the form of massive temper tantrums/mood swings/aggressiveness) and, of course, tics. I wouldn't call her hyperactive, but she has always been unable to sit still for long.

 

A journal is a good idea, I did that between making the 1st appt with the paed, and the appt itself (a 10 day period). Makes for interesting reading. Our GP thought she had OCD, which made sense to me as my sister and I have suffered from OCD for years (nothing physical, it's all playing with letters and numbers in our heads, seems it was our way of coping when 1st our mother, then our father, passed away from cancer 4 years apart). However the paed said it was a tic disorder, and I don't see any OCD behaviours in her.

 

What are your thoughts on PANDAS?

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I did look into the PANDAS info. While she hasn't been tested for anything yet, I can see there are several factors that suggest this could be the case. She had sudden onset, adventitious movements, behavioural regression (in the form of massive temper tantrums/mood swings/aggressiveness) and, of course, tics. I wouldn't call her hyperactive, but she has always been unable to sit still for long.

 

A journal is a good idea, I did that between making the 1st appt with the paed, and the appt itself (a 10 day period). Makes for interesting reading. Our GP thought she had OCD, which made sense to me as my sister and I have suffered from OCD for years (nothing physical, it's all playing with letters and numbers in our heads, seems it was our way of coping when 1st our mother, then our father, passed away from cancer 4 years apart). However the paed said it was a tic disorder, and I don't see any OCD behaviours in her.

 

What are your thoughts on PANDAS?

 

I spent way too much time on the internet reading about PANDAS today! The more I read, the more I think that might be it....but I don't think I'm qualified to diagnose a disease after a few hours of reading about it! He does have quite a few of the symptoms... I have definitely noticed severe rashes on him immediately before the onset of an episode. I'm composing an email for our pediatrician tonight to ask his advise. I guess it'll be another night of restless sleep and mind wandering for me..

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Hi there, and welcome! My son is 11 and has a few tics that started after he had dental spacers put in, as well. He still has them in as I really think they are helping keeping things in alignment in his mouth although it's obvious that he'll need braces anyway. Not sure I'm going to do braces any time soon if I really thin the spacers contributed to his tics in any way. His eye teeth don't have enough space so we keep calling him fang now that they're coming down, LOL!

 

Anyway, we find that magnesium supplementation and 50 mg of B6 seems to help calm him. Stress and allergies also seem to contribute to his tics, as well. My son plays competitive tennis and is very athletic, too. He has tics/habits that he works into his tennis game which most people don't notice ie. pulling on his shirt between points, flicking his fingers, and a shoulder shrug. He started the tics with eye blinking but we've seen quite a few since he started ticcing at age 9. Mostly, they've been minimal and don't seem to bother him too much. We have issues with anxiety and that seems to be our biggest challenge when it flares up, but for the most part he's a normal kid(is there really such a thing as normal anyway, haha?). I have always fed him a relatively clean diet and I try very hard to keep him from MSG and food dyes. High fructose corn syrup and nitrates don't seem to affect him so I do allow those on occasion.

 

Keep perusing the board here, you're bound to learn more and if you need help with the school or the teachers I'm sure there's some great advice here, too! We homeschool so I don't have to deal with that aspect of a kid's life!

 

Bonnie

 

Bonnie,

Thanks for your info. Do your son's tics wax and wane very quickly? It seems like as soon as I posted my first post, the tics stopped. He went a full week with constant head shaking (except when playing DS, watching TV or sleeping), to just about nothing when he woke up Saturday morning. It is now Sunday afternoon, and I probably noticed less than 20 head shakes. It started just as quick. This was his second episode where it flared up, lasted a week, the just stopped. I'm not sure if it might be PANDAS, as I am starting to read more about that. About a week before the first episode, he had a pretty severe rash behind both knees. He actually had to be taken out of a basketball game. This came a day after he was swimming in an indoor pool at a hotel. The second episode was after we noticed ringworm. I will be talking to the pediatrician tomorrow....

 

If anyone else can give me any info, I would appreciate it.

Thanks

 

DC's dad

 

Well, we haven't had a truly tic free day in 2 1/2 years. Yes, they do wax and wane and I definitely see them wax when he has new teeth coming in or teeth falling out. Took me a while to make that connection, too! Sometimes they can get worse as the day wears on if it's allergies that are making them worse. Like these days, we're in high allergy season(we're in AZ) and I noticed his eye blinking is a bit more intense and more frequent and he's been complaining about watering eyes and drippy nose. I noticed the same thing with my allergies so I figured we're hitting that time of year around here since the orange trees are blooming and we had a LOT of rain this winter.

 

Not sure about the rashes but an infection of any kind is usually something that may exacerbate tics in some kids. I've kept journal after journal over the years and I truly can't say whether we are dealing with PANDAs. I keep thinking I'll research it further but life gets in the way and I figure that his anxiety and moods are stable so why mess with it right now. And, then, when we're in the throes of crazy anxiety(like last fall) I fall apart and can't think straight and I forget that I should be asking about PANDAs, LOL! My husband's family has anxiety and depression issues and I have no hereditary mental issues on my side of the family so I keep thinking that some of the anxiety ds has comes from my dh's side of the gene tree.

 

Good luck to you and keep asking questions!!

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