Originally Posted Saturday, June 15, 2013
Above is an image I created to provide “examples (visuals)” of what Autism Tics or Tourettes may look like, from the person acting out and the person reacting to the behavior.
Approximately 30% of people living with Autism will experience an episode, if not several episodes of Autism Tics (vocal and/or motor); Tourettes; or involuntary movement disorder. They have been associated with Epilepsy and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
PLEASE BE MINDFUL: Tics are involuntary movements.
A person experiencing an episode of Autism Tics or Tourettes may blink or grunt uncontrollably; repeat phrases or sounds without regard for who or what is before them I.e., a child repeating their abc’s while in Sunday school at Church; yelling or mumbling obscenities; and more.
For more detailed information (from where I’ve learned a lot) in addition to seeking professional help and resources, please visit: http://www.autismhelp.info/health/tics-and-tourettes/categories,id,468,1-1.aspx
My husband and I witnessed Jr’s first (and God willing his last) episode of Tics approximately one year ago. The day was a usual weekend. The three of us were in our bedroom watching TV. All I can remember is that “out of nowhere” Jr jumped up out of our bed and attempted to run out of our room, over into his. In the midst of him jumping up abruptly, hastily putting on his slippers, his father and I noticed that “his eyes were blinking” and it didn’t look “normal!”
It looked as if he may have been having a mild seizure or something similar. As we tried to speak to him, he answered us by repeating “I don’t know, I don’t know” when we repeatedly asked “why he was blinking like that and what was wrong.” We tried to allow him time to calm down, but when we went into his bedroom after him and turned on the light, “he became irritated, by the light and asked that we turn it off” and we agreed. We gave Jr ” a little time” I don’t recall how much time, but I’m assuming it wasn’t more than approximately 10 minutes to calm down.
Once we felt that he was calm again, we took him to the emergency room. After being there for hours, they informed us that he had an episode of Tics.
We were overwhelmed because we are already doing our best to tackle the Autism. We didn’t want or need to hear anything else “negative!” However, as we always do, we took the hit on the chin and kept on moving!
The hospital instructed us to return “I believe” within a week for a follow-up and we did. He was cleared! We were ecstatic!
However, to add insult to injury: We were “forewarned” that this doesn’t mean “it won’t happen again EVER” it just means that “it isn’t happening NOW.”
We were downtrodden temporarily. It was like the good news didn’t exist anymore, because the bad news seemed to hover and engulf us!
We came home and we “felt” how we needed to feel, because we are humans and we needed time to not only “take in” the diagnosis the doctor gave us, but comprehend the pros and cons that are associated with it.
We knew we had “yet another up hill battle” that doesn’t seem to be getting easier.
Then in my frustration, fear and disbelief; I begin to think about how I could “prevent” if that’s even possible, future occurrences of the tics.
As time went on, I begin to “unconsciously” ease up on observing Jr and I realized that I hadn’t seen or been informed of any additional episodes. However, I believe he stopped having the tic episodes and began having the tourettes episodes (especially when his personal space is violated).
He has used curse words to express his discomfort towards his peers when his space is violated.
HERE”S WHAT WE HAVE DONE (TO HELP AS MUCH AS IT WILL HELP)
We have consistently monitored his “sensory and touch issues” by adjusting the lights as needed. FYI: (incandescent lightbulbs are the BEST ones to use in ALL areas that they will be in! However energy saver bulbs are okay, but you will have to test them prior to using them throughout the home or particular areas of the home.)
TESTING their sensory capacity takes about “2 mins” max to know whether or not “this bulb” will or will not work for your child’s environment.
You’ll know if it DOES NOT WORK because they will “avoid looking anywhere remotely close to where the light is located, they may rub their eyes (appear sleepy), they may shift in their seat as if they have to use the bathroom)
We have turned the brightness down to “0” on the TV’s that he uses consistently and
on his account on the desktop computer. The tablet has energy saving settings that tend to work okay with little to no adjustment required. Jr may spend ample time in his room with the lights off; (however there’s natural sunlight that comes through his curtains).
We monitor, “Time” his use of electronics! This too can help with “Decreasing the stress” that I believe can sometimes cause some of this (that’s just my opinion, please confirm with a professional if you believe the same applies to your child) His allotted tablet time varies each day. It varies as his mood does. Some days he may use it “at his leisure” throughout the evening “without supervision”; other times he may only be allowed to use it for thirty minutes or at the maximum two consecutive hours.
When Jr is “anxious” I attempt to de-stress him through various methods. Sometimes I tell Jr that he “has” to take a nap and I will set the timer for one hour and send him to bed. I use Chamomile/Lavender bath salts, Johnson and Johnson baby wash to soothe him and help him to fall asleep. He will also have days where I allow him to stay home from school and we don’t do any educational activities that day. Meaning, If we do something that’s educational it’s not in a teacher/student setting, it’s simply a part of the day! He’s allowed to stay home because “all of our bodies” need rejuvenation, especially children with Autism. They have “extreme amounts” of energy that I’ve witnessed lead to what I’ve heard be called “episodes, meltdowns, and temper tantrums.”
“The aforementioned are my opinions and experiences, please confirm with a professional if you believe the same applies to your child.”
I hope by sharing my story this will motivate reluctant parents to have their child tested, IF they show similar symptoms/characteristics.
In addition, I hope that it assists parents who have or are experiencing this with their children to remain hopeful.