16 Jul

This post has been churning in my head for quite some time, but it is a difficult topic to write about, so bare with me.

Annie has tics.  As in Tourette’s Syndrome type tics.  Not the stereotypical kind that cause people to yell profanities, but the facial twitching, hand shaking, quiet throat clearing kind of tics. 

For as long as we can remember, Annie has always had a nervous habit—what it involved has changed over the years.  She has had spells of playing with her hair or clearing her throat or other discreet, easily unrecognized unless you were around her on a daily basis type habits.  They always came and went with no rhyme or reason and never caused any concerns.

Until recently.

A few months ago, these nervous habits kicked in full force and the child has been plagued with non-stop tics ever since.  It is the craziest thing.  One day she was fine.  The next, she was busting out new tics like it was a full time job.  The little quirky habits have manifested into almost constant tics.  Lately, the tics involve making a face that looks like she is totally annoyed, then shaking her head a little, and then shrugging her shoulder.  If she is really getting effected, she’ll throw in some quiet throat clearing, too.  It’s…well…really hard to watch, as a parent.

We’ve taken her to two different doctors and they both agreed, she has quite a case of tics. 


Both doctors gave the same advice:  give her extra vitamins (because sometimes major growth spurts, both developmental and physical, are what start the tics), make sure she gets enough sleep at night, stay away from chocolate, and try to keep stressful situations to a minimum.  Both have acknowledged that many children, especially girls, get hit with a bad case of tics around age 6 and it usually only lasts for a few years.  Our family doctor told me that a few of his kids dealt with this same issue, and they eventually outgrew it.

They both expressed the importance of not making a big deal about it because making her feel self-conscious about it is only going to raise her stress and exacerbate the tics.


At first, I was all stupid parent and like, “Hey, Annie.  Can you stop making that noise?”  Or, “Annie, do you realize you are making that face over and over again?”  Dumb.  Total parent fail.  I just didn’t know what the heck was going on.  It all seemed to come out of left field.

Then I started reading up on it and talking to others whose kids dealt with similar issues, and now I understand.  What she deals with is a neurological issue.  Her brain sends the message to make the tic and if she tries to suppress it, it only gets worse.  You know that feeling when you get a mosquito bite that you just can’t stop itching.  Even if you try to tell yourself, “I’m not going to scratch that bite,” you just cannot help it.  And when you finally scratch the hell out of it, you feel better.  Until it starts itching again.  And, again, you go after that bite full throttle.  That is what it feels like to her.  Some days, when the tics are really intense, she looks so tired.  Ugh.  It breaks my heart.

Rarely is she aware of what she is doing, but on a few occasions she has asked, “Why do I do all of these twitches?”  One time she was telling me that the tics were bothering her during quiet time because she kept losing her place while she was trying to read. 

This is hard.  I mean, no parent wants anything to be “wrong” or “different” about their child.  I don’t want her to be the butt of kids’ jokes.  And I don’t want to have to explain to people when they ask why she is making those faces.  It’s touchy. 

But, it is who she is and we are just going to keep loving the heck out of her. 

While at Church last week, one of Annie’s good friends noticed all of the twitching Annie was doing and asked her mom about it.  Her mom, a dear friend of mine, explained that we really don’t know why, and that Annie can’t help it.  This perplexed her daughter, and so she continued, “But she never did it before.”  Her mom explained, “I know, honey, but some time it just happens.”  Her friend announced, “Well, I love Annie just the way she is.”

And so do we. 



4 Responses to “Tics”

  1. Angela July 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Sounds like my girl, although her’s is more mild. We have never had a diagnosis, but this sounds just like her! She says, “I just feel like I HAVE to do it. If I don’t, I feel wrong.” And nowadays, she actually likes me to let her know when she’s doing it. I don’t think she always realizes it, and the she will try to suppress it, or do it “smaller”. You’re right, it comes and goes. I think it was worse when she was younger; at least, it was more obvious. Nowadays it’s mostly a pursing of the lips and tightening of the neck muscles. She can do it pretty discreetly, so whatever! We laugh sometimes about the little things she just has to do… she definitely has a touch of OCD too, but it makes her so original and different! I wish it would manifest itself in a compulsion to keep her room clean!

  2. Jackie July 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Sounds a lot like my brother when he was younger… could it be hereditary? Seth also has this fast eye-blinking thing that he does that I am pretty sure is a tic, and yeah, it makes me think of his uncle! 🙂 Of course, we deal with noises and other tic-like oddities with Evan all of the time and really don’t think too much of it anymore, but I’m sure it can be distracting if you’re not used to it. They really can’t help it, but I’m glad that Annie’s got two wonderful parents that understand that and try to help her feel good about who she is… who she was made to be, perfectly, by her Creator!

  3. Dad July 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    Jason’s cousin Nate had tics, probably still does. Also, several on the Steenbergen side of the family had tics.

  4. Katie July 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    I had a student (honors student, salutatorian, BPA scholar, etc) who suffered Tourettes tics. She didn’t have the verbal ones, but she had many facial ones. She was gorgeous, athletic, and had tons of friends.

    Everyone knew about her Tourettes (not like it can be hidden), and no one cared.

    I tell you this because it’s true, everyone will love Annie for who she is because she is Annie. If it goes away or if it doesn’t, she is still your lovely Annie.

    Also? hugs. I know a momma’s heart feels these things deeply, even when we are told it’s ok and it’s no big deal. So hugs.

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