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('what ELSE might there be besides tics??')

Question 105: Do you know if constant blinking / squinting can cause damage to the eye? I have several tics but the most frequent is extreme squinting and blinking. It has started giving me dizzy spells and head aches. I'm worried that I'm going to cause some kind of damage to my eyes ( or something else??) Thanks for any information you can offer.
Dawn, TX, USA.


Question 104: Dear Dr. Duncan, I am a mental health professional. I read your story in the Reader's Digest of July 2004 and immediately went to your website. It is a wonderful website and provides extremely useful information. In am writing from Calcutta, India, and very little information on TS is available here. The reason for my sending this mail to you is the following:

About two months ago, a 29 year old female was referred to me for psychotherapy. She was reportedly suffering from OCD. The symptom was that she has an irresistible urge to insert her finger in her right eye. She has this symptom from age 12 and has been treated by the best psychiatrists both in America and India. Nothing has helped her beyond temporary relief. She also is on drugs for epileptic seizures which are controlled now. The girl has lost sight in her right eye and has also damaged her left eye. The symptoms decrease or increase in intensity from time to time. She does this mostly in bathrooms or places where she cannot be observed. She also has an urge to scream loudly and when she does that her mouth becomes distorted. Somehow I became a bit skeptical about the diagnosis of OCD. Her personality does not have any perfectionist trend, the anxiety-reduction after completion of the compulsive act is also not present. I am aware that it may not be present in all cases.

My questions are:
a. Is it possible that the symptom this girl is suffering from is TS and not OCD?
b. Could it in any way be related to her epileptic seizures?

Even before reading your story, in last week's session, I advised her to be aware of her urge and immediately to do something which will make her hands inactive, like putting her hands in a pair of gloves etc. I would like to help. Any suggestion will be hightly appreciated. With thanks in advance, PM.


Question 92: Dear Dr. Duncan, I find myself somewhat amused at what I am doing. I have known since the third grade what I was doing, but didn't really come to realize until 5th or 6th grade I had tourettes. I have always been excellent at hiding everything I do, even from my family. I would always come up with excuses about my behaviour, and I would often cry because they would tease me since they didn't understand. Now, being 16, I have really started to accept what this is, and reading more about tourette's. I have a nagging question, however, and I really need the answer! I cannot find it anywhere; not just on your site, but on the web. My question is this: does having tourette's, in anyway, shorten your life expectansy or cause you to die earlier then normal because it is a neurological disorder? Please ligthen my load with this! I need to know. M.

Question 90: My 9 year old son saw your interview on Montel Williams' last year and became much more calm and accepting of his TS . . . thanks. He didn't talk much about it, but you could tell he was fascinated. Here's the problem! I can't find this anywhere in your archives, so I don't know if this is TS or something else. Handwriting. He's in 3rd grade. Very smart. He can write as neatly as anyone sometimes. Then on some days, his handwriting is HORRIBLE. (By this I mean printing, not necessarily even cursive writing.) He almost never writes well for over 1 sentence long. It's as if he fatigues. Poor fine motor skills I think. So, he has learned NOT to write anything that's over a sentence or 2. He does just enough to make the B. (He also can't tie a shoe or button a button.) I have talked the school finally today into letting him use the alpha smart (mini-computer) at his desk. I told them he'd never get better at handwriting, because this year he's gotten worse, and it's all because he needs to write more. So, is this related to TS? Will OT work? Or what do I do? P.S., TX, USA.


Question 82: Is there a form of TS with an adult onset? I've been struggling with an "adult onset tic disorder" for over 2 years now, both vocal and physical, quite a repertoire. Never a day without it, often dozens of events in a day. I won't go into all the tests and specialists ....I'm a scientist (biological microcopy) very much into leading a balanced life and alternative medicine, and have pretty much given up on websites, doctors, any type of treatment -- conventional or alternative -- this is just part of who I am now. Anyway, do you think that information, research, whatever, about TS can be relevant to someone who, by definition, can't have TS due to the age of onset? I also have a more direct factual question: Can the tics lead to other physical problems? My most common and violent tic is a snapping of my head straight backward. Often very vocal as well -- barking, gasping. Now my shoulders are sore all the time, diagnosed as "shoulder impingement syndrome" could it be related to my tics? Thanks in advance, G.M., ME., USA.

Question 76: One type of tic that isn't recognized is variations in my speech. My voice gets louder without me knowing it. I get "Quit yelling at me!" when I don't mean to. I get asked if I am being sacastic because of the tone I cann't hear. I over enuciate and people think I am talking down to them, this one I can catch sometimes. Most complaints are that I am yelling and that I am confrontational when I ask questions or am having a discussion subject matter seems irrelevant. I try to get opinions from others but they seem to think I am being bitchy when I do this....I have thought of video taping everyday activities and conversations around the house. Have you had any experiene with this type of disorder? Ideas? Medication? Thanks for listening to me. K.T., BC, CANADA


Question 73: I am pretty convinced my 7 year son has Tourette Syndrome [and] We do have an appointment with a Neurologist in February. In the mean time, I am obsessed and wanting to make sense of all of my son's behavior. There are times when he is out of contol, mainly being silly, not listening and saying inappropriate things. This has been going on for years. Many people have asked (or assumed) he had ADHD when he was in one of his "silly moods." Of course, I think I am a horrible mother who can not control my son. He does not have this problem at school (He does vocal and motor tics at school). When I get really angry, he gets very upset, almost surprised that I am mad. It's as if I didn't ask him 100 times to stop the behavior. Is this associated with Tourettes. Please let me know. Thanks; MM, MA, USA.


Question 72: My 17 year old son was diagnosed with NLD two years ago and has a certain behaviour that troubles me....[It] started ever since he could sit up and he would take a shoe lace and flick it back and forth in front of his eyes. From that point on Ryan would perform the same action with other straws, fishing line, string. Ryan now has what he calls his "flicking shirt", a long sleeved t shirt he wears with one sleeve pulled down over his hand in which he holds a peice of fishing line and waves it in front of his eyes very fast clapping his hands together. He does not do this in public but I do notice him walking towards the car when I pick him up at school and he will be snapping his fingers up almost at eye level with one hand. I really would appreciate your thoughts on this "flicking" behaviour. It is something Ryan must do every day. I've been an advocate for Ryan ever since they told me in junior kindergarten that Ryan just doesn't do what everyone else does and that something is amiss. Thank you, J.M., ON, Canada.


Question 66: Hello there my name is A., I'm a 17 yr. old student in Australia who has recently been diagnosed with TS....It has been rumoured that Mozart had tourette syndrome, I wonder could this have been the source of his creative genius....What evidence is there, if any of a link between TS and creativity?. The other question I want to ask you is, what is a mental tic. Would echolalia be an example of a mental tic? Maybe all mental illnesses are a form of tic disorder? A.A., Australia.


Question 62: My question is this, my son is most often a very sweet and loving child, and as you understand he has his moments that include the rages, however I am wonder(ing) if TS has some effect on the ability to make the choice between right and wrong. Some times the choices my son makes are very poor even though I know he knows he shouldn't have made that choice....I am worried because for the last eight months his choices are for a lack of a better word ridiculously wrong and inappropriate, I will also let you know he is on risperidol per day and when he goes to his fathers every other weekend he is not always getting this medication, then when he gets home by Sunday evening he is a handful and very very angry and hurtful to his siblings and me. Is it a possibility that the constant interruption of medication causing this inability to make good choices or does it have to due directly with his TS. S.H., ON, Canada.


Question 59: Your answer to the TS-Rett's [i.e. is there a connection between TS and Rett's Disorder] was possibly where I got a little intrigued. When you say it belongs with the Autism/ Asperger's cluster, I thought that those 2 disorders are related to TS because of some of the similarities. We saw a video on Autism....and I was spellbound at how many qualities related to Autism that I have, although nowhere near as strongly as most Autistics do. I realize the fact that the 2 syndrome names are close is just coincidental. G.B., ON, Canada.


Question 42: My sister is 44 years old. She has exhibited TS symptoms for decades....Most pronounced are her verbal tics. While never profane, she has classic TS symptoms. On June 29, my sister was diagnosed with a BRAIN TUMOUR, on her speech center, left parietal lobe. Since then, her tics have become somewhat more frequent and the variety of verbal tics has increased. M y main question: Have you ever seen a TS case where the person has developed a tumour in the speech center? Is there any correlation, in your opinion? Thank you for hearing me out. My sister....beyond the tics is a kind, generous person. Blessings, H.G., ON, Canada.


Question 32: I would like to know what the difference is between OCD and mild Tourettes. What in the brain is happening, and how is it different. My grandson has just been diagnosed with Tourettes, and I, the Grandma, has OCD. Go figure! C.C., ON, Canada.


Question 27: I was hopping you could clear up some confusion with me. Is ADD/ADHD a LD? Or is LD's just common with ADD/ADHD? All the books I am able to get my hand on to are vary out of date. And don't give good information. On top of the fact I seen to live on a back hole for information an TS, ADD, and the like. I was also wondering if you have any advice on explaining to College instructors that a I have TS. That I am fine and nothing will serious happen to me whale I am ticing. (I had some problems at the end of the semester with caching a flue that made me tic really bad and some instructors panicking. And I don't wish to repeat it next semester.) R.J., CA, USA.


Question 26: hey:) I saw your article in Macleans Magazine, and I was intrigued. I am a 17 year old student who....has ADD, and actually, much like you appreciating your TS, I like ADD...I mean honestly, imagine how boring it would be not to be thinking of 10 things at once! Anyways, the reason I am writing is because I was wondering how closely related ADD is to TS and OCD. Through reading some of the articles on your site, I see many simelarities. I guess I am basically curious about the differences between the three because based on my understanding....very often people diagnosed with ADD have, to some degree, obsessive-cumpulsive tendancies, and very minor tics. Just Curious. K.A.B., ON, Canada.


Question 25: My 4 year old son....currently has a diagnosis of impulsive-type ADHD, OCD issues, and multiple verbal tics. My question is whether through
your research you have found any information on developmental language disorders associated with TS as he also has this diagnosis....My favorite of my son's vocal tics is, "Good steak," which I think came from, "For goodness sake," but his language problems got in the way! J.M., Nevada, USA.


Question 18: Both my son J. and I suffer from insomnia--I'm probably worse than him but he may get worse as he enters his teens. The only thing I have found that helps is making sure I'm really calm (no stimulation) before I go to sleep and I also take low dose (10-20 mg.) of Elavil every evening. I recently started a new job and have found my insomnia has intensified greatly. I just can't stop my mind from racing with all the things I need to get done at work and elsewhere. I just tried self-hypnosis with no success. Do you have any jewels of wisdom in regards to insomnia. K.M., ON, Canada.


Question 16: Hi. You were just in town talking to the kids at [my son's] school.My son has o.c.d. and he is 12 yrs. old. I did not realise that o.c.d. was a part of tics....I have been trying to tell the taechers about [my son's behavioural problems] but it does not work. They think I'm lying.Igot the doctor to sign a note saying he has it but it does not help.He is getting into trouble for things he can not help.I would like to know how to deal with the teachers?My son was very impressed with you and really enjoyed listening to you. His friend at the school has tics and him and her talk all the time about there problems, but when you came to the school and spoke on this he has not stopped talking about it.Thanks for coming to the school and talking to the kids.BYE. M.M., ON, Canada


Question 15: What I have read about add and TS is that the child has difficulty learn and does not score well on test. That is not the case with Joe, inspite of the problems he is very intelligent with a high IQ.

The problems that [my son] is having at school we understand is not controllable, but the school wants to force him to act and be held accountable like the rest of the school. The problems that he had on the one day I talked about were fueled by the actions of the school and now they have taken away....part of [his] IEP along with a lot of other items that could help Joe....The school is unwilling to try and work with him and is labeled a trouble maker. We are working with an advocate and have filed a case with the state department of education....We are frustrated....and feel that Joe is being discriminated because of his problems which I believe is illegal. But forcing someone to do something is usually not the best way, we would like them to want to help.

Any suggestions would be helpful. R.M., OH, USA


Question 14: What do you know about the Asthsma/coughing tic? [My son] has had a horrible cough for the last week, was dx with asthsma long before TS but am hearing things about it as a tic now. Matt has no weezing currently (at the moment) but is constantly coughing and the inhaler doesnt work. I know you're busy so I'll understand if you can't respond and won't be upset. R.S., MO, USA


Question 12: great website and great source for support! i was wanting to ask a few questions....

1. what exactly is the difference between a tic disorder and tourette's?

2. is tourette's related to or a form of the disorder known as "chorea"?

3. at what age did your tourette's appear? and how?

thanks! S.Z.


Question 11: Thank-you Duncan for your response to my question concerning our son's sleep disorder. You mentioned quite a few useful things. I had wondered about behavior modification for TS. But the pediatric neurologist that Chase our son sees says that there really is no way to turn the motor off in Chase's brain so easily. I had mentioned to the doctor the idea of getting an aquarium for our son's bedroom in hopes to help relax him at bedtime. He said that we could try but not to hang our hopes on it.

Are the sleep clinics familiar with treating a sleep disorder associated with TS? [Our neurologist] has had to remind me of the physialogical nature of this disorder on more than one occassion. Reminding me of an actual problem with neurotransmitters and the tics not being emotionally induced.....[Our neurologist] is also very conservative with the meds. He doesn't want Chase treated for his tics unless he is hurting himself or unable to be productive. And none of those have occurred so presently he only takes something for bedtime. We too would like to keep him on little meds as possible or none at all.

God Bless you and the ministry that you offer to us folks. You have a gift. Don't give it up. Sincerely, S.H., Texas, USA.


Question 10: Hi. [Our daughter] has been diagnosed with agoraphobia and we are looking for some direction. Her family Dr. is a pill pusher but admits meds would conflict with epileptic meds. I wonder if some type of counselling is successful for this. What would an almost Dr. suggest would be the most effective course of action. She is working with a neurologist for her epilepsy. Jrvb, Ontario, CA.


Question 9: I read your article and response to the question of meds. I found it very informative. My question is: What about meds. for something like a sleep disorder. The inability to sleep through the whole night or not all on some nights. My husband and I are going through these night wakenings with our 8 year old son. It just wouldn't seem to stop. Our neurologist, a pediatric neurologist prescribed clonidine for him. One quarter at first and now we are up to a half tablet. Have we seen any benifits? I don't know. The frequency of the night wakenings has lessened. But I find myself going to sleep at night praying that the med. won't have an adverse affect on him while we are asleep and unable to notice. Hope you can help us out? S.H., Texas, USA.


Question 2: Dear Duncan, Do you know if there is a link between bedwetting and TS?? Any info or websites answering this question would be appreciated? R.V. California, USA


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