After taking their son to a neurologist without good answers, a reader wrote with a question:
“Anthony is 10-years-old and attends 5th grade in a small private school. He has a 93 average and always receives an A in conduct. He is a well-adjusted child who participates in sports and has many friends. So what’s wrong with the picture? The minute he goes into his room to watch TV or play a video game the “music” begins.
His throat clearing and nasal snorts have become increasingly loud and more frequent. At times at his worst his body visibly jerks. I took him 2 years in a row to a neurologist who just did a preliminary office exam and interview. The only recommendation was to go for blood work to test for strep and he recommended a psychiatric exam which I refused. Why not an EEG study? There are other times when he starts to exhibit tics but never in school. How can this be?”
Unfortunately, doctors rarely examine why symptoms are worse in one location than another, or in one situation or another. The recommendation to simply test for strep (and get a psychiatric exam!) is an example. The good news for Anthony is he does not always exhibit tics, and they tend to occur in the same location. This suggests something in the environment is playing a key role. Parents need to be detectives to discover what may be triggering the tics. This family is off to a good start, because the primary location where tics flare has already been isolated to the child’s bedroom where he watches TV or plays video games. We have 7 suggestions.
1 We suggest you start by examining the bedroom to see what factors may be involved there. Keep in mind that there could be more than one. Things to look into include:
- Types of flooring
- Dust and pollen control
- Is all the bedding scent-free with natural fibers?
- Mold contamination
- Is there animal dander?
- Electromagnetic radiation
3 When electronics are in the room, limiting the time allowed before a mandatory break may help. The break should preferably be outside the bedroom.
4 Does your home have a smart meter located near the bedroom? Or is the electrical box near one of the bedroom walls? Consider having an environmental specialist check for mold in the room and have the level of electromagnetic radiation measured. The bedroom could be an electromagnetic “hot spot.”
5 Some readers will suggest that your child feels a sense of relief when in his private bedroom and he is “letting the tics out” after suppressing them. While this can occur, the consistency with which you have observed the bedroom tic increase over the years makes this simple explanation less likely. Also, the difference in tic level based on the relief of being in private is usually noted when at home in general, away from school or outside friends.
6 Make sure there are no toxins from new paint or pesticide treatment, for example, in his room. Have you tried moving his bedroom or electronic equipment to another room in the house? This could be an enlightening experiment.
7 Once the mystery of the bedroom has been solved, then keeping a log of other locations where tics occur could lead to more answers.
We wish you all the best in finding the answers you need for Anthony.