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TV/computer/gameboy impact on tics


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My son is ok when playing computer games and school work on his 15"LCD screen, but the moment he lies down to watch TV (those normal bulky screen - what d'you call them? - CRT?), his tics come every few minutes - mostly facial jaw movements, deep breathing, toes turn in, shaky legs.


Btw, my son is on all natural supplements (i follow closely to Bonnie's) but have not give him the niacin (cant find the non-flush kind here), fish oil and taurine yet. His tics are not severe as first started, i think Vit Bs and calcium/magnesium play an important part here for tics relieve.


Just my feedback.



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Hi jc,


I have been out of town, so just now catching up. But your observations would imply that your son does have photosensitivity (via tics) to the CRT TV monitor. The thing about this is, the impact can linger for days, even though you only notice the jump during TV. A friend just told me that their COSTCO is selling a 17" TV/Computer LCD combo monitor for only $250+. Some unknown brand. COSTCO's return policies are generous, so it might be worth switching for 30 days to the LCD TV viewing and see if you child's overall tic level is reduced.



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Claire - thanks for your advice. I will shop around but not sure if i can find this particular brand here. In fact, I am also considering getting a LCD TV for him - playing computer games and watching TV are my two sons' greatest past time. ^_^

I notice that my son tics very little when playing his computer games - it could be due to LCD screen or focus.


I will keep in touch.



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  • 1 month later...



You asked whether I thought photosensitivity went away or was outgrown--I thought it was a good discussion for this thread.


Given the lack of studies on photosensitivity and tics, I can only speculate from what I do know, and that is that 1 of 4 children outgrow photosensitive epilepsy. I didn't like those low odds.


I believe that the photosensitivity often has a specific cause, which could be healed and thus the photosensitivity reduced. Examples:

-Yeast overgrowth interfering with absorption of nutrients, which result in photosensitivity (e.g. B2 deficiencies can cause this).

-Elevated Mercury can cause light sensitivity.

-Pyroluria can cause light sensitivity.



I did nothing but limit screens for the first 2 years I knew about this, and my son’s photosensitivity didn’t improve at all. It wasn’t until we went to the DAN/EM doctor and ran the mercury/yeast/vitamin tests a year ago and put together a customized supplement/healing program that he improved. As you know, he now has no reaction to an LCD monitor, where we used to have to limit even that time. I never try CRT screens, but we did do a big screen movie recently with no impact at all. That was his worse trigger. So I know this can make a difference.


If you heal the health issues, I believe you reduce the photosensitivity and thus the tic reaction. Examples here of other parents whose children used to react (tic) more from TV/computer and have improved greatly: Ronnas, Heather, and efgh. (efgh’s son still has some sensitivity). On the other hand, Jean’s son still has a reaction, many months later, and she is doing healing things. Another parent (who occasionally posts) has avoided screens for a year but done no supplements/healing/treatments and the sensitivity is still just as high.


Now on the other hand, both TS and chronic tic syndromes improve substantially on average after puberty. So maybe that means less photosensitivity too.


One encouraging thing. The LCD monitors are still better than CRTs for most with photosensitivity, and soon the CRT's will be obsolete. They are even starting to make 100 hz TV's (vs 50-60 hz) which is above the normal photosensitive range for 95% of those with photosensitivity.


Just my thoughts…no answers. I should point out that with autism it is pretty accepted among DAN doctors that you need to heal the immune system early or the symptoms are only minimally reversible. I am glad I only 'wasted' 2 years before starting a program with my son. I did get on the internet back then, but I hadn't found this site, and ultimately Sheila Rogers who gave me the doctor list. I got a bit too relaxed because we had 'solved' the problem. Actually, I did hope he would outgrow it. When I realized he wasn't, I got moving again.


I do worry that sensitive children's exposure to this trigger while children's brains and nervous systems are developing could have a permanent affect. But that is just me--over cautious, and I realize it may sound alarmist. I have zero evidence of this...well, some study did show that young children watching more than 2 hours of TV a day were more likely to have ADD. So I guess I consider that evidence that permanent issues can result, especially with the HUGE TV's people have today. (We did too, before all of this).


But then I worry about supplements too, and waited until I found a doctor before giving them. I don't worry about giving normal levels, just megadoses without medical supervision. So take my 'worries' with a big grain of salt.



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Thank you Claire for the info. I am so glad your son managed the big screen movie - if I recall correctly it was only a little more than a year ago you did a trial at a big screen with some special glasses - if I am remembering the old posts correctly. That seems to mean you have had a lot of success.

I am soooo hoping that the milk is a factor for my son and like Ronna that away from milk ( and with continued supplements) he will be able to manage the photosensitity triggers. He was at hockey today twice, both times on the rink he was fine, it is incandescent lights - but in the change room and the hallways there are flourescent lights - I did see an increase in tics coming out of the game but no so much going in - so wonder if fatigue was also playing a part. So many factors at play!!!!!


Thanks as always for your commitment to this forum and the time you have spent compiling these very useful threads. When info is all put together you really do see the similarities becoming so obvious.

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Thanks Alison,


I found this board 14 months ago, and only a few of the regulars seemed to have found success. But everyone seemed to have such different methods. After reading so many posts for so many months, as more people shared their trials and successes, I was struck by how many of our kids had food sensitivities/allergies. Then I started looking for other patterns.


Of course I tracked the TV/computer trigger privately from the start. Jean, efgh, Ronnas and Heather, who did an early trial of 'no screens' (Heather's son's school's term) was awesome, because it showed it was not an isolated event.


Heather was the first to notice that when her son improved with continued treatments, the photosensitivity went away. This filled me with hope. Then Ronnas. Now, us, too, to some degree, though we still don't do flashy games or CRT screens.


If newcomers actually post what made a difference and what didn't, we can collect more information on other factors that require more medical intervention. Other patterns will emerge. Doctors need anecdotal evidence to justify formal studies. We are each contributing not just to eachother's lives (which matters!) but to countless other families.


For example, yeast. Chemar, Heather and Phyl both had such great luck with lowering elevated yeast. Others here have tested positive for it--enough where it is clear it is also common. But I wish we had more people who measurably lowered it who could comment on what difference it made. But the issue with yeast is that it generally takes longer to deal with. Same with metals and methylation issues. And what about the osteopath visits that minimize tics for Marina's child for 7-10 days at a time? Pfeiffer mastered approaches for ASD's, but are less successful with tic syndromes. I keep trying to figure this out, since so many of our kids that have been tested, have the same immune issues. Someone said Pfeiffer only has a 15% success rate with tic syndromes.


I think maybe photosensitivity is at least one of the differences in treatment vs ASD's. Also, they don't do food elimination, and yeast testing is no longer a standard part of the initial test--at least lately.


Thanks for the thanks, Alison. I just hope that other more recent posters realize that follow-through in reporting both the effective and the ineffective does make a difference. This is the only way I see to see more patterns emerge. And we need people like Jeff (hammering on artificial ingredients) and Heather (yeast) and Ronnas (PANDAS, etc..) and Chemar (supplements and treatments).


Just as the saying goes, "It takes a village..." !



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  • 2 weeks later...

I have great news, and want to post it on this thread, because I think it is relevant to photosensitivity. Finding out that your child is photosensitive helps you manage things a bit, but 'curing/minimizing' the photosensitivity is a bigger goal--in this day and age, computers are here and a part of education and jobs. My goal was that he could basically have unlimited LCD exposure (initially I had to limit it) so that he could someday get full-time work requiring computer involvement. I am don't care about CRT's--they will be obsolete by then.


I just now found out my son's mercury test results. The history:


Great Smokies elemental analysis test:


Mercury normal: <=10.6


March 04: 23.3 High

July 04: 15.0 High

Dec 04: 8.5 Normal !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


(Also, his tin was high in March 04 and is now normal.)


This is so exciting. I posted that he had no reaction to a big screen movie lately (his biggest photosensitive trigger) and that the only computer/TV limits on the LCD are for general health and homework reasons (1.5 hrs/day during the week and 2 hours/day on weekends). So I KNEW he was better from a symptoms standpoint--elevated mercury is known to cause light sensitivity.


This took 10 months to resolve--slow and steady, without the risks of chelation.


Also, his yeast history (Great Plains)


Normal Arabinose (candida metabolites): <=47.0

Jan04 75.67 high

July 04: 178 extremely high

likely elevated from mercury treatment, then did 3 months of Nystatin

Dec 04: 69.97 high


So, not out of the woods with yeast --it is tough! But at least we got it back under control after the metal detox or whatever that shot it up last summer. Certainly his eating habits are healthy in that we don't do much sugar.


More Great plains:


His glutathione is still low--lower than last time, but not as low as the first time. I cut back on that supplement, because it had selenium and I was controlling the selenium due to potential toxicity. Now we need to discuss adding more reduced glutathione.


His casein/gluten peptides showed normal--but then he doesn't have gluten for it to show up. He does have cheese though. I want to see what Elisaact says about gluten/casein. Basically, I know milk is a sensititivity, but trying to find out if I should worry about cheese. I worry, but I don't restrict it right now. ^_^


Ascorbic was low. How odd, it was the first time, but it wasn't last time, and I still supplement 1000 mg/day. I guess I need to add. They said for high toxicity, you really need lots of Vitamin C--I guess so!


Still waiting for: Spectracell vitamins/antioxidants,

Need to do: Elisa Act food sensitivities. Last spring he had 20 food sensitivities, let's see how much he has improved. The fact that the yeast isn't much improved implies he will still have some.



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Hi Claire,


This is such great news. We just did some ELISA testing and metal testing today - so it will be interesting to see what my sons levels are like - results expected in a week. I was thinking that photosensitivity is really a newer issue for us, in that prior to the PANDAS diagnosis there were never any obvious issues of tics with tv, lights etc, - so I do wonder if there is a yeast issue as a result of 4 months on full antibiotics. Spit test was normal a few weeks ago, and I guess in a way we are treating possible yeast by having 2 probiotics a day. ( I think)

My son continues to do AMAZING - fingers crossed it continues. The naturopath saw him today, she had not seen him since November as I do most stuff via e-mail/phone as he does not need to be privy to all this stuff.

It certainly gives me much hope that we too will eventually manage photosensitivity - LCD tv, while better than regular tv still increases tics a little, he is pretty much tic free all day and there is a slight increase if he watches and then he is back to 'normal' within an hour or so. LCD tv is limited to 1/2 hour but most days he watches none. It still amazes me that we have broken this habit of watching so much tv...now to work on the other kids...


Thanks again for all the info you have provided and continue to provide.

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Guest Guest_efgh



That is great news . Hearty Congrats to you and your son!!!


Can you please tell WHICH PARTICULAR supplement you gave your son for elevated mercury? Now that his mercury is normal , to which particular supplement do you attribute the improvement to?



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Okay, at least something new for this thread. This on photosensitive epilepsy, which as you know I believe is the same trigger...discusses both the flicker and the graphics.







Television is a Flickering Medium


Of the precipitation stimuli, television is the most common precipitant (60 percent), followed by natural and artificial lighting. With television viewing, nearness to the set (60 cm or less) is a common factor in over 70 percent of patients (Jeavons & Harding 1975). There is no doubt that television always contains two precipitation factors.


The 50 Hz flicker occurring at the main frequency in Europe can be perceived at all distances. Forty-nine percent of patients are sensitive to this frequency of intermittent photic stimulation (IPS). However at 60 Hz, the frequency of television in North America and Japan, only 15% are sensitive. The vertical refresh rate due to two horizontal lines produces flicker at half these rates, i.e. 25 Hz (Europe) or 30 Hz (North America). This can only be seen when the patient is close enough to resolve the linear pattern, typically less than one metre. At these frequencies 72-75 percent of patients are sensitive. However, at this distance the presence of the lines may well be a factor related to pattern sensitivity.


Television Content Causes Seizures


The further provocative factor is the broadcast material itself. Obviously all flashing lights or temporal changes from light to dark with high contrast represent intermittent light stimulation. At three flashes per second only three per cent of the photosensitive population are sensitive. At 65 flashes per second only four per cent are sensitive. Maximum sensitivity is between fifteen and twenty flashes per second. The precise distribution is given in Harding and Jeavons 1994 (see graph).




96% of people with photosensitive epilepsy are sensitive to lights flashing at between 15 and 20 flashes per second



Patterns can also cause seizures


Besides temporal contrast (flickering light) there is also spatial contrast (pattern). The pattern needs to be between one and four cycles per degree. This means that there has to be between one and four black and white bars in each degree of the person's vision. Thus the spacing of the bars on the television screen (and its size) and the distance between the person's eyes and the television change this ratio.


Examples of photosensitive patterns


There is no significant difference in the orientation of the bars but bars are more provocative than plaids or checks. The contrast is critical, there being a linear positive relationship between contrast and abnormal brain responses. Isoluminance (normal red-green) bars are non-provocative. However, long wavelength red is the most provocative colour. Patterns, bars or grating that oscillate (white to black and vice versa) are more provocative than static patterns. The least provocative are drifting patterns (i.e. moving in one direction). If the patterns oscillate, the "dangerous" IPS frequency of 15 - 20 Hz is the most provocative (Wilkins, Darby, Binnie, Stefanson, Jeavons & Harding 1979; Wilkins, Binnie & Darby 1980).


For all stimuli, whether flashing light or pattern, it is essential that stimulation is in the central area of vision (ten degrees) and must be binocular [viewed through both eyes] (Harding & Jeavons 1994).


From the above preamble it is possible to produce a definition of provocative visual stimuli which are most likely to precipitate convulsions in the photosensitive population and therefore should be avoided in the production of video material for television transmission.


Flashing lights or temporal change in light-dark contrast, that is, between successive frames or sequences:

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My son had a field trip last week. The trip was for watching a solar system show on a big projection. After then, his eye rolling was significantly increased. In fact, we rarely see his tics these days. He told me when the show was on ( especially when he was watching moving stars), he felt to roll his eyes. I thought it should be ok for him to watch a show on a projection. It appeared to me that the fast movement object is also a trigger to him. I wonder if he has the photosensitive epilepsy problem.



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What I meant by this being the same trigger as photosensitive epilepsy was not that these children HAVE photosensitive epilepsy (we would know if they were having seizures) but that it is my belief that the type of trigger is virtually identical (flicker, graphic movement...) to photosensitive epilepsy. But instead of seizures, there neurological reaction is tics. Photosensitivity is also known to take the form of migraines. Seizures/epilepsy from photosensitivity is the most rare reaction of all--it only affects 1 in 4000 people, whereas 8% have some sort of photosensitivity in general.


So your son's reaction to the projector would be completely expected to me.

The tracking of the movement fits this trigger--especially in a dark room.


Knowing this, you can manage things as needed. This is why I don't think that LCD's alone solve the problem if the visual content still has rapid action and graphic movement, e.g. certain video games, cartoons...


I used to wonder if visual therapy on getting the eyes to team together would help. We even tested my son, but he showed normal. I know the eye teaming issue can be there with tic syndromes. Hard to know where one begins and one ends.


I am still convinced that metals may be a factor for your son. You know my bias--my son's photosensitivity did not improve until we brought his metals down.


Others here saw improvements from eliminating foods, reducing yeast, or adding supplements. I think you have done all 3 of these, yes? Since they weren't enough for my son--it took getting metals out, I would think it could be worth investigating further--someday when your son is ready.


By the way, they now sell the topical anesthetic for blood draws over the counter. Yeah!




ps thank for the input on the peak flow meter.

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Thanks for the useful info. (as usual)!

Our ND also thought he might have heavy metal although his heavy metal hair analysis test is negative. What do you think of blood test vs. urine DMSA challenge test? Sorry if you have answered it before.





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Our DAN doctor likes the blood test best. He says any DMSA at all can cause other problems. Our neighbor had lots of problems with DMSA--overnight her tongue was coated with yeast which caused more problems than the metals did. I know Jennifer is doing the DMSA challenge, so maybe she can chime in there.


You know how I feel about the hair test showing false negatives for kids who simply don't excrete metals well--the problem in the first place for many of them.



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