Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Leaky Brakes 101 - Part 6

Tonight was our last session at the Leaky Brakes workshop. It consisted of a short presentation, reviewing what we had covered in previous weeks, and a panel of experts made of of previous presenters, members of the Tourette Syndrome Association of Ontario, and two young people with their parents. I brought a question, one that had been nagging at me on and off during the entire series of workshops, but that hadn't been addressed.

Here's my question:
We are very fortunate in that Luke's tics aren't a problem for us. I manage them using several techniques. One, we never bother Luke about his tics, we just ignore them for the most part. Two, using the analogy that a tic is like an itch that must be scratched, I usually wait for Luke to tic a bit and then say "That's enough" in a calm voice. My reasoning is that if you keep scratching an itch, it sometimes builds on itself to become even worse. Luke will often stop if I ask him at the right time. Three, if he doesn't stop, I can ask him to please do it in another room since I'm getting annoyed. Usually, he'll stop rather than leave. Fourth, I sometimes play with Luke and his tics because often his tics are fun and silly. Is it dumb luck to come across this method of dealing with tics, and would it possibly help other families?
I received answers from several people on the panel and I'll try to summarize them.

Often families find their own way of dealing with tics that is individual to each family. Its a case of whatever works for you. The techniques I described above likely reduce Luke's anxiety and we know that reducing anxiety will reduce tics. The only time you have to treat tics is when they become annoying or when the interfere with normal functioning.

Luke's principal also attended the Leaky Brakes workshops (for which I am very grateful) and he told me afterwards that he thought my question was quite good. He has noticed that Jim and I always use humor when dealing with Luke and that this means a lot to Luke. Well, it means a lot to me that the principal has noticed.

The biggest thing I have learned through this six-week experience is that our situation is really not that bad. I wish I could have had this information about 8 years ago, but we've figured out a lot all on our own. I know we still have some challenges in front of us (high school!) but I'm also confident that we have the skills we need to guide Luke through the upcoming transitions.

The thing that has touched my heart the most through all of this is the response that I have received from readers who have TS and TS+ kids. I'm glad that my reports have been helpful to others. I feel for everyone who is struggling to help a child thrive and grow through a childhood riddled with complications.

I have a series of handouts, written by Dr. Dunc that are freely distributable. E-mail me at laurie_corriveauAThotmailDOTcom and I will send you what ever you are interested in. For further reading, I've copied the bibliography compiled for this lecture series below:

Barkley, Russell A. & Benton, Christine M. (1998), Your Defiant Child: Eight Steps To Better Behaviour, New York: Guilford Press.

Chansky, Tamar E. (2000), Freeing Your Child From OCD, New York: Three Rivers Press.

Chowdhury, Uttom & Heyman, Isobel (2004), Tics & Tourette Syndrome: A Handbook For Parents & Professionals, London: Jessica Kingsley.

Chowdhury, Uttom & Robertson, Mary (2006), Why Do You Do That? A Book About Tourette Syndrome For Children & Young People, London: Jessica Kingsley.

DeFilippo, Michael G (Ed.)(2003), Getting Personal: Stories Of Life with Tourette Syndrome (foreward by Duncan McKinlay), Lebanon Tennessee: Second Chance.

Fitzgibbons, Lee & Pedrick, Cherry (2003), Helping Your Child With OCD, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Gooding, Nadyne, "Nine Faces Of The TS Parent", in The Green Leaflet, TSFC (available online).

Greene, Ross W. (2005), The Explosive Child, 3rd Edition, NY: Harper Collins.

Greene, Ross W. & Ablon, Stuart J. (2005), Treating Explosive Kids: The Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach, New York: Guilford Press.

Haerle, Tracey (1992), Children with Tourette Syndrome: A Parent's Guide, Winston-Salem NC: Woodbine House.

Handler, Lowell (1998), Twitch & Shout: A Touretter's Tale, New York: Dutton.

Klass, Perri & Costello, Eileen (2003), Quirky Kids: Understanding & Helping Your Child Who Doesn't Fit In, New York: Ballantine.

Seligman, Adam Ward & Hilkevich (Eds.) (1992), Don't Think About Monkeys: Extraodinary Stories By People With Tourette Syndrome, Duarte CA: Hope Press.

TSFC (2006), Understanding Tourette Syndrome, Toronto: TSFC.

Wagner, Aureen Pinto (2002), What To Do When Your Child Has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Lighthouse Press.

Waltz, Mini (2001), Tourette Syndrome: Finding Answers & Getting Help, Patient Center Guides, Sebastopol CA: O'Reilly & Associates.


  1. Some people just get it! Blessings to you, your hubby, and Luke for accepting this, working with it (not against it), and looking forward. Thank you for sharing this part of your story - and Happy Mother's Day!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I've found it to be helpful and interesting. Have a Happy Mothers Day!

  3. You are such an incredibly beautiful person. --Syl

  4. Gavin has mild tics. I was told if they aren't a problem, they don't bother him or us, then there was no need to get a TS diagnosis.

  5. Thanks, Laurie. I copied several of those books into WordPad so I can remember to buy em. I so appreciate your series of blog entries on this. And what a great principal! He must really care about his students. You're so lucky to have your son in that school!

  6. Our school had a doc come out & do a one day leaky breaks workshop with the teachers & a presentation to the whole student body. It was fantastic & gave Jimmy, our middle son, a new way of looking at his challenges with ADD.

  7. Just stumbled on your blog via the Brake shop site. My daughter was diagnosed this past January and I had been finding it incredibly difficult to find any help here in Windsor. I am finally waiting for a referal to the Brake Shop.
    I like your question and I actually use the same technique. Paige hss a punching tic and it upsets me greatly to see her harming herself. I stay calm and after a few moments ask her to do this in another room as it upsets me. She usually does or ends up needing to punch my hand first but more often than not it slows down then stops.
    Thank you for sharing I have found your blog posts very useful.

  8. elizabeth1:08 pm

    Wow. I stumbled across your blog and these posts looking for patterns to knit my husband a sweater and I'm so glad I did! My son has what I think are tics, he hasn't been diagnosed but has ADHD and it fits. They don't bother him and I'm trying to not let them bother me! We're going to his pediatrician next week, but I wanted to say thanks for all these posts - they've already helped me a great deal!