Monday, February 9, 2015

Sometimes Tics Can Be Mistaken

Sometimes, it is easy to explain tics as being other things.  Throat clearing, sniffing, blinking... All easy to mistake as being allergies.  In fact, it's exactly what Monster Man started off with, which is why it took a while for us to realize that he had more going on than just simple allergies and a few 'quirks'.  We were lucky when it came to Little Man because we knew what to look for, and his tics started off a little different.

Angel Baby, our oldest, has had severe allergies since she was a baby.  Environmental allergies, allergies to some foods, allergies to meds, allergies to dyes... She has a rather extensive list.  Her skin has always taken a hit, largely due to her allergies.  Her skin would get itchy, she'd scratch, she'd get sores that would get infected... She has had a series of prescription ointments for her skin for the last several years.  The battle to keep her skin healthy has been a long, stressful one.  It wasn't until recently, when I caught her picking at spots on her arm, only for her to deny doing so, that I began to realize that it was more than just allergies.  Sure enough, after keeping an eye on her (without her realizing it, of course), I discovered that she had a skin-picking tic.

The skin-picking isn't the only tic that was mistaken for something else.  She often rubs her nose, clears her throat, and sniffs, again often figured to be related to her allergies.  When it continued despite the absence of other allergy symptoms, it was easier to realize it wasn't allergy-related after all.

She's always had a dramatic side to her, so it wasn't a huge surprise when she started speaking with random accents.  She has a British accent and an extremely country southern accent, on top of her usual voice.  She'll often be talking in one voice, only to switch to the other mid-sentence.  We'd teased about the voices, calling the British accent Penelope and the country accent Gretchen.  When we realized that just saying the name while she was talking would trigger the accent to change without her even having time to think about making the switch, we realized that the accents, too, were a tic.  In fact, there are times that she actually gets frustrated when she wants to speak normally but one of the accents comes out.  It takes real effort on her part to NOT speak with one of the accents, rather than her having to try to speak with them.

We've known for a while now that we were dealing with TS with her, too, though she has not yet seen the neurologist for an official diagnosis.  We were leaving it up to her, actually, since she is almost 16 and her tics are so mild that they hadn't caused her major frustration (with the exception of the skin-picking, which is finally starting to go away).  She didn't want to get the diagnosis for herself, and we were trying not to think too much of it.

Unfortunately, Angel Baby's tics have gotten much more severe in the past week or two.  She has developed a neck tic that has become quite uncomfortable for her.  Watching her try to finish a meal, her neck jerking as many as 20 times a minute, has become very hard on us.  She has had such a huge change that it has come to the point that we know she'll have to go to the neurologist for an official diagnosis soon, and that we'll have to find the right treatment for her since she is dealing with a lot of neck pain as a result of this tic.

No more mistaking the tics as something else in this house.  It's time for us all to finally accept that all three of our kids are dealing with their own struggles with TS.