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TV/computer/gameboy impact on tics


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Hi All

It's Wednesday night (day 6 of no screens) and our Friday afternoon appointment at the osteopath looks like it will be CANCELLED for now.


Matt has improved by at least 80%, even though he had 45 min of computer lab on yesterday and 30 minutes today in Maths.

The improvement is amazing. Some neck tics still there but not very noticable. A far cry from how he was last week.


I first noticed he was better on Monday, although he did tic during a tennis lesson.


Last night it was rather impossible to tell. Matt came home to tell me how much better he was DESPITE the computer lab session. His thought was that he had passed computers because he didn't react to the 45 min computer session in class.

This led to elaborate plans to fix the playstation, with a marathon TV, computer session planned at the end of the trial !

My explanation of the cumulative effect, and suggesstion of extending the trial to see how much better he could get, did not go down very well. He stormed off to his room to read for the rest of the night refusing to speak to anyone.


This meant that I only saw him for about one hour, as I had worked late. Not much time to observe. However, I did notice that even though Matt was extremely angry (not at all his usual self) he did not tic with the additional stress!


Happy to say that today he came home happy, agreeing to an extra week.

It's so hard when you are almost 13 and have computer and games as your passions!


So Claire it seems like screens is the big trigger after all. I say seems only because I'm so scared to declare it a success, just in case the symptoms come back.


It will be interesting to see how this next week goes, and to observe how he reacts during basketball etc.

What are your thoughts about speaking to the teacher about no screens at school next week. I haven't done this so far, so Matt doesn't feel different in his new school with new friends. Not going to the canteen makes him different enough!


Thank you Claire and everyone else for all the information and support.


Claire, I'm going to read all your posts on photosensitivity. What do you make of the success of the osteopath treatment?



I've learnt so much in the last few months. As always other parents have been my biggest teachers. Who else but a parent could possibly give and research so much to help their child despite the utter despair and confusion at times.


Please, please let these improvements continue!


Will keep you posted



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I am SOOOOO happy for you and Matt - to see that success - I would think the increase would be being tired AND the exposure to the screens that you talk about at school. We ended up doing no screens for about 3 weeks in total then the LCD in very limited amounts. I talked to my sons school about the screens and they accommodated him by providing an LCD screen for computer lab - it is only once a week and I did not want to take him out of it as he really liked it - I did notice and increase in tics the evening and morning after the computer lab initially before they gave him the LCD screen. Again with my son -- I really think in the end the contributing factor was the milk allergy - who would have thought!

So, if your son is still having some tics in the morning - don't be too concerned they should settle out.


Congrats to your son for being willing to extend the no screens. As I have said my son rarely asks to watch tv anymore and he was a tv junky - it is amazing how the habit was broken - easier for me though as he is 6 and not into the game boy etc. yet.

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Well Marina,


You can imagine my delight in reading your post. This is wonderful news, even if you aren't yet ready to declare a victory, and I understand this.


Lots of reactions:


1. As Alison said, the computer exposure at school does affect this in that you still aren't seeing what his true 'no screens' baseline is, even if you see improvement. The tricky part about one exposure is that 1) at school he is highly likely only doing static programs, vs the flashier/rapid action computer games. So while he is still getting the 50-60 Hz flicker, that is just one part of the photosensitivity trigger. I am really glad you are extending it a second week, since he did have some computer.


2. As for the school, could you make arrangements for him to have an 'appointment' during that time so that you don't call attention to this with the other kids? I really think this is important to do. Once we were sure of the correlation, we bought and loaned a 15" LCD monitor for the computer lab, which is assigned to him when he is there. The rest of the time the other kids use it.


3. As for the osteopath, I generally believe that various healing methods (accupuncture, NAET, osteopaths...) can relax the body, which would help tics. We actually did something once with breathing and pushing on muscles--it seemed to stop the tic reaction after TV at the time. I asked the practitioner whether it was permanent and he said no, you must remove the 'toxin' for a permanent result. Well, I see TV/computer as a 'toxin' meaning that it irritates kids with photosensitivity. You had no TV that week, so when the osteopath did his relaxation/muscle work, your son's nervous system responded well, plus you had no trigger to set it off again--so he accelerated your son's nervous system settling down. This of course is just my theory.


4. I haven't figured out the TV/computer trigger totally. Sometimes I think it is like known foods the kids are sensitive to. You take them away for a while, and when you reintroduce them, some kids have an immediate reaction. For others, they don't and you find they can tolerate having a little every 4 days (that is the wisdom with food, since it takes 3 days to work through the metabolic system).

So this is why I always say: Once you find your child's baseline (in your case 2 weeks is what it may take since he still has had some exposure) then experiment with it. The worse case scenario in my mind is that initially they have some tolerance, and so you go back to old ways, but because it is cumulative after a month the tics are back but you don't see the correlation.


As Alison said, kudos to your son for agreeing to a second week. I believe that you will continue to see the correlation. I will pray that you and he are fortunate enough that this makes a dramatic difference so that 1) he truly believes it and 2) you don't need to spend more months looking for other triggers.


Of course in any case, it will take effort to manage some changes, plus to me then the challenge is identifying what triggers the photosensitivity. B2 deficiencies do it, as does mercury, pyroluria, and I believe yeast....but it will be much less stressful trying to figure this part out while your son is not have major issues with tics.


I hope that you come up with things to replace the TV/computer...they are so addicting and 'comforting'. The LCD should help a lot, but I would reintroduce it (or TV) slowly (1/2 hour a day or even every other day and watch closely for reactions) and choose more 'static' games--SimCity, RollerCoaster Tycoon, Incredible Contraptions... but one step at a time--you still


Good luck Marina, especially with getting through this next week. It is so much easier if both you and your son work together on this. Lots of trial and error will likely be needed.



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Hi Marina,


By the way, you notice I have not added you to the 'success' statistics here. I am trying to be rigorous and not do it until each parent is truly convinced. I do want to not bias this 'survey' thread with my own personal hope that children can see positive changes very quickly. (Same with the food sensitivity thread, and the artificial ingredients thread).


I am quite excited and hope this works out for him... ! I have been telling my husband and son about your son. Please keep us posted.




edited: Marina posted later on another thread that she saw major improvement, so I did add her to the stats.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Guest

Interestingly enough, I just read a book about 6 year olds "Your Six Year Old, Loving and Defiant" and the author spoke about 6 year olds having "tic like behavior" and suggesting eliminating/limiting television.


It really seems to make a difference with my daughter, though my husband is sceptical.


I shall send him the link to this thread. :)


Thanks for pointing me here friend.

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I hate to admit this but when my son's tics were bad, and I mean really bad, we would allow him to watch TV with the notion that we would trade one tic for another. Lesser of two evils type of thing. But usually, he could go weeks without watching any TV and when he does it is never more then for a half an hour and at night before he goes asleep. That is except for the most severe out breaks then the above applied.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My family is new to all of this. In fact, this is my first posting (I just got a lesson in how to do it!). Our 11 year old daughter has 3 tics right now: eye-rolling, shoulder shrugging/chin thrusting, and a vocal tic that sounds like mild, repetitive throat-clearing. We're at the end of week one of the "no screens" protocol. My husband and I haven't really noticed a difference but we didn't tell our daughter that. I asked her if she noticed a difference and she thinks so, maybe a little. This has her motivated to try it for another week, thankfully, since I've read here that it can take longer than a week to reach a baseline. We're very hopeful that this will turn out to be a trigger for her since it seems relatively easy to deal with - we're happy to change to LCD screens both at home and at school.


I'm skeptical of mainstream neurology & pediatrics because the practitioners I've seen are very "medical model" and I'm not! They haven't been very supportive of our efforts to explore alternatives to medication so I need to find alternatives to them! I've been getting a bit lost in the various threads here but eventually I'll read about DAN doctors and other options. We've started taking our daughter to my massage therapist who is skilled in cranio-sacral therapy among many other modalities. She likes it so we'll keep going.


Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences. You know how lonely and overwhelming this can be and I feel like it's such a blessing that I found this forum so soon into my journey.


Oh, what does it mean when something is "bumped"?


Hopefully yours,


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Welcome, glad you found your way here!


The most recent 'replies/posts' go to the top of the forum. As people start new 'threads/topics', the older threads that don't have new posts fall off the top page and tend to go unnoticed by newcomers. 'bumping' a thread just means hitting the reply button on that thread, even though you don't have anything new to post--because it will automatically bring it back up to the top page.


First, your 11 year old daughter sounds like a real trooper to agree to a no screens week and be willing to go longer!


Really, if results are there, you and your husband should be able to see them. I assume that she didn't have screens (e.g. TV or computer work) at school during this 'test', as it can't impact results. My only other question is whether Easter itself brought on a disproportionate amount of junk food with artificial ingredients. Did she have the commercial jelly beans and colored candies and chocolates?


In any case, going a few more days with no screens certainly can't hurt because then you will know for sure.


However, if you haven't already done so, do you think she would be game to go this coming week without any artificial ingredients, e.g. food colors, preservatives, MSG, artificial flavors. Effectively this means no packaged food. This is also a trigger for some. Normally I say don't do this with no screens for the first week, so as to not confuse the results, but you have already done a week with no screens, so okay to try others. If you are lucky enough to see improvement, you can figure out later which one was the bigger factor. There are common food sensitivities too, but they can be tested for, and that might be too much to deprive her of her favorite foods too. For artificial ingredients, there are usually equivalent options--especially if you have a Whole Foods or Wild Oats nearby. If you are already doing this, please let us know.


I think it is great you are trying to find the right doctor--we have ALL been there with mainstream doctors not on the same path as we are. So much of what we are seeing here is that for the vast majority of us, we have needed a doctor because part of the healing involved supplements and we need some guidance there.


If you haven't read this thread, please scan it and see how many of us are facing the same immune issues. For better or worse, it takes a specialist to order the tests and guide us on treatment. But many of us guide our specialists to encourage them to run certain tests, because it seems that we are finding we have certain issues in common more than others.




There is a book called 'Children with Starving Brains' on autism that lays out a story that seems to apply to many with tic syndromes. The way much of this works is that certain things compromise the immune system (metals, strep...). One thing that can be impacted is 'gut' health and nutrients aren't properly absorbed. The lack of these nutrients can have substantial neurological effects.


That is an oversimplification of one path. The point is that so many here have issue in common that we are starting to think it is a wide concern. Now a number have seen tremendous improvements. For the rest, it is a work in progress, and time will tell. What we believe is that a dedicated parent can help to solve the puzzle in a methodical way. And of course the key to this is to do it with loving acceptance of your child, so that they don't feel they are under a microscope.



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  • 3 weeks later...
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Hello all

Good to read all the good news, and thought I'd give an update.

Much has happened which has gone a long way to clarify things in our family.

Stef (18 year old) had RAST blood test for allergies to gluten, tomatoes, molds, dust, grasses etc. They were all clear but we decided to go gluten free for 3 weeks to see if his headaches got better. Unfortunately there was no improvement. His was however calmer and more alert, but as he himself mentioned it may have been because he also tightened up on amines, salycilates etc. He has just started to trial wheat as so far no change.

As suspected, the RAST test did not show up his food intolerances because they test different response mechanisms.


Matt, has just finished two weeks school holidays.

Prior to that he was increaseing his TV and computer time (no games), and although his eye blinking tics reappeared, no neck or shoulder tics.

He was determined to again test games, which we did in the last week and guess what. Slight neck shoulder tics reappeared.

Claire was right. After such a long time, he didn't or rather didn't want to see the connection. He is now negotiating another trial variation. Sticking to diet 110% and games!

We've been there and done that. I think the results are in!!!!


Another interesting thing happened last week.

Paul, Matt's twin with no tics became very ill, and I came home from work. Headache, blurred vision and vomiting. He looked so ill that a latter doctor's appointment was brought forward.

In the end Paul at the age of 12 had suffered a bad migraine, which the doctor thought may have been brought on by late night (sleepover) and playing games on the computer (which he doesn't often do).

So I think another example of the impact of screens on the neurological system.


We are back to school with limited screen time. Matt says he feels his neck tight, but their are no neck tics , and I hope all will settle down.

I am hoping Pauls migraine was a one off, and I'll pursue Osteopath treatment for Stef's headaches.


Keep well everyone.

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Wow, I can't believe I only saw your thoughtful reply today. Not sure where I've been looking but I guess it wasn't here. The various threads still confuse me.


Easter & associated eating of junk food wasn't an issue with my daughter because we don't celebrate that holiday. Your suggestion to eliminate artificial ingredients is one that my family has discussed and we are going to give it a try beginning on May 3rd (after Passover). I am fairly careful about what I purchase anyway, shying away from such additives, but not 100% - yet.


Yes, our trial of no screens included no screens at school. Shira's teachers were wonderfully understanding. Just not a trigger for her, I guess.


I've been exploring an approach by an organization called HANDLE based on the west coast. Is anyone familiar? Website is www.handle.org. A NJ occupational therapist may evaluate my daughter to see if their approach might help her.


After these two things we will consider making an appointment with a doctor Dara saw in Denville, NJ. He is an MD with a specialty in environmental medicine and will order many (most?) of the tests you've referred to in other posts. We continue with weekly cranio-sacral and massage therapy for relief and to maintain alignment and hopefully ward off other musculo-skeletal problems related to the chin thrusting.


Thank you again, Claire, for synthesizing the voluminous amount of information contained in this forum. It's amazing.



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  • 9 months later...

Hi, I'm new, and I have suspected for awhile that most screens (mostly T.V. and gameboy) increase my sons tics. It is during screen time when they are the worst anyway. But I'm getting the impression from responses here that it is the diet/allergies that cause the photosensitivity in the first place. Can someone please explain. Thanks.

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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.






I would have your child tested for yeast before any DMSA challenge tests. If your child has an yeast or fungus issue in the gut then liquid DMAS or DMSA in pill form could make it much worse and trigger other problems including tics. My son has had gut issues so we opt for DMPS IV for our challenges and treatments along with DMSA suppsortories. I would not rush to do any IV treatments without reseaching the doctor. If going this way then you would want a DAN doctor who has vast experience with this mode of treatment.



Hi, I'm new, and I have suspected for awhile that most screens (mostly T.V. and gameboy) increase my sons tics. It is during screen time when they are the worst anyway. But I'm getting the impression from responses here that it is the diet/allergies that cause the photosensitivity in the first place. Can someone please explain. Thanks.


It has been a long time since I have read the research on this but if I remember correctly the food allergies were tested to be delayed food allergies/intolerance then the issue is thought to be damaged done to the gut by mercury or other heavy metals. When this happens the gut then has an increased growth of bad bacteria, yeast, and fungus. The yeast has feelers at the end and actually poke small holes in the small intestinal lining. These holes then allow food particles to travel the body before properly injested hence causing tics for the body has been poisoned. Also the bad stuff growing in the gut impairs the body to properly digest and injest certain foods henceforth the delayed food allergy. So the TV viewing would become more difficult for the eyes to tolerate for the central nervous system has already been compromised.

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Hi Claire,


I posted as newly diagnosed a while back when I had just seen a neurologist who confirmed a diagnosis of Tourette's. Let me tell you our story and then maybe you can add my son to the list. My son started to do a vocal tic in late Feb 2004. Interestingly, he was 7 and had been given a playstation for Christmas. At the same time I had a new baby and so he was watching a lot more t.v. than usual. Also, he had been given the Star Wars bounty hunter game for playstation, but because it was "Star Wars" I got overuled when I complained that it was too much for him. When the vocal tics started to become more and more I took action and took the game away for good, greatly reduced t.v. time and started bringing him home for lunch to ensure he was getting proper nutrition. He still got to play playstation but much less and very tame games such as pac-man and atv offroad. His tic went away for good within a few weeks and I was relieved to think that maybe it was just a transient tic.


Then at Christmas time again he got another Star Wars game for playstation which was similar to the other in that it was a combat game with lot's of light saber activity and one for gameboy. No one believed me about the game, t.v. and tic connection and so it was allowed. At the same time, we drove to Disneyland and a lot of time was spent in the car playing gameboy, and watching movies on the dvd player. Low and behold the tics came back even worse than ever(vocal and motor). So with mom being the big meanie, the Star wars game was taken away and again, I limited t.v., other playstation games and gameboy now(it had never bothered him before) and tried to make sure he was getting plenty of sleep and proper nutrition. Eventually by early March he was tic free but it took much longer.


Then in May 2005, they began again. They were so bad that it was then that I decided I needed to seek medical attention. He had seen the last Star Wars episode in the theatre ironically. I went to the internet and it was then that I discovered your threads about the t.v., computer, gameboy connection-but still no one would believe me about this connection. I convinced my husband that we must take playstation away all together. My son then turned to his gameboy to replace it and at the same time his tics worsened. I brought him home for lunch again for proper nutrition and did everything to replace "electronic" time with outdoor activity. It took much longer but by mid-July he was tic fee again but the diagnosis lingered because of the frequent episodes of tics within the 1 year time frame.


When we went to the pediatrician for a follow-up in Nov. we boasted that he had had no tics and he was doing great-I kept the "electronic" connection to myself because it had been so poorly received in the past. However, he did finally have his first appt. with a neurologist in early Dec. I don't know if it was the Halloween candy's cummulative effect, his staying for lunch-he's not the best eater, or the fact that he was spending more time inside due to the weather or just simply the natue of Tourette's but the tics returned. When I spoke to the neurologist about the t.v. playstation connection he said right in front of my son that there is no connection, and frankly I am a gamer and would be upset if I had to stop playing. Well, son was elated and said see mom. So, I said what about the stress and excitement that is caused by playing these games which is a known trigger and he said well ya-I guess so.


So, I went back and printed your threads and made my husband read them. My son had been feeling left out because his friends have game systems so we allowed him to have game cube with very mild games and no gameboy. Over Christmas, his tics became worse once again. At present, he is still ticking but again they are gradually decreasing as I limit his junk food, promote rest and reduce his "electronic" activities. I am waiting for the day that further research makes the connection and will then validate the effects of too much t.v., computer and video games on children's developing neurological systems. Until then I will continue to do my best to limit it with my children and replace the time spent doing more valuable things such as outdoor activities. It is so difficult though because so many children are allowed unlimited access in this day and age.


Finally, as we are still very new at this and early into our son's journey with Tourette Syndrome, I continue to look for clues such as diet and allergies but I can tell you that so far limiting his electronic activity has been the only thing that I have been able to manipulate and see a great reduction in ticcing. Therefore, I believe in the connection 100%.



Thank-you so much for making this connection and writing about it!





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