Griffin Wakem and his mother, Ginger, gave this account to Sheila Rogers DeMare. It documents the heartbreak of their experience dealing with a severe case of Tourette syndrome and celebrates finding of a successful treatment without prescription medications.
In 1986, Ginger Wakem and her husband were desperately dealing with their son’s Tourette syndrome (TS) symptoms. Griffin had developed normally and was clearly bright. He seemed healthy, but when he was six years old, he developed some mild tics. By the fourth grade, something had gone terribly wrong. His mother recalls, “Griff disrupted his gifted classes with ear-splitting shrieks. He made noises, kicked desks, and waved his arms. He involuntarily beat his chest so hard with both fists that he damaged the lining of his lungs.” After a trip to the emergency department one night, his parents began taping a foam pad to his T-shirt to cushion his chest.
“For six weeks,” Ginger said, “the tics were so bad that Griffin couldn’t even hold a pencil. He was depressed and wished he were dead. And all this was while he was on medication.” Students taunted Griff, and at home the family struggled to deal with temper tantrums and mood swings. Tourette’s had snatched Ginger and Peter Wakem’s talented, sweet-natured boy and given them a nightmare in return. Positive results at last After taking Griffin to different neurologists and to a psychiatrist, Ginger went into therapy herself to deal with the stress. The following year, a friend recommended that she take her son to an environmental physician.
Griffin was seen by two environmental physicians in Florida, both of whom were helpful: Kenneth Krischer, MD, in Plantation (recently deceased) and Albert F. Robbins, DO (now retired) in Deerfield Beach. To the family’s amazement, Griffin was found during testing to have an allergic reaction to corn, egg, and milk—each of which caused different tic symptoms. More testing showed that beet and cane sugar could bring on shrieks, aggressive behavior, and loss of concentration. His eyes itched in response to the introduction of wheat, he sneezed as a reaction to chicken, and he was unable to hold a pencil when tested for tomato. Apple and chocolate brought on some of the worst tics. Griffin was also hypersensitive to certain dusts, molds, pollens, and chemicals. Laboratory work revealed nutritional imbalances. The highly reactive state that Griffin exhibited is considered unusual and has been referred to as “exquisite sensitivity.”
Standard medications had failed and the family was anxious to help Griffin. Jumping in with both feet, they vigorously removed chemicals and allergens from their home and adjusted Griff ’s diet. Drug therapy was discontinued, while nutrient and allergy therapy began. Within a few months, the major tics had subsided.] Griffin ’s health improved, his grades improved, and “he was a joy to be with once more.”
Mom turns advocate
Ginger gradually observed that whenever Griffin was inadvertently exposed to something he was allergic or sensitive to, symptoms would flare, though never to the previous degree. “This is a remarkable connection,” she thought.
Seeking to help other families, Ginger began collecting and sharing letters she received about similar experiences with twitches and tics. This effort eventually grew into the current Association for Comprehensive NeuroTherapy, now directed by Sheila Rogers DeMare. Griff ’s success story was included in a BBC documentary on TS for the Discovery Health Channel’s “Medical Mysteries” series, which has aired several times. Now a successful businessman, Griffin agreed to the use of his story and name in the hope that others might be spared the pain that he and his family endured before they learned that allergens and chemical exposures were responsible for his central nervous system problems.
Excerpted from the book: Natural Treatments for Tics and Tourettes