Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Ticcy

Vaughn was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome when he was five. I kinda of get a kick out of telling people this because their minds immediately go to a place of imagining him yelling obscenities and racial slurs. In reality, that type of Tourette's is super rare and Vaughn's type is seen in one in ten children at some point. His version is characterized by a series of verbal and motor tics lasting more than one year (and maybe not taking a break for more than six months but I can't remember exactly).

What is so fascinating about this is how clockwork it is. It always starts with the start of school and wraps up sometime after January. It always starts with a variation on an eye tic (the most common type of tic) and moves into a motor tic. Five is the age when it generally shows up and if Vaughn continues to be a textbook case, we'll see it continue until about age 12, maybe peaking around age 10.

When it first appeared it took the form of his eyes rolling back at an alarming frequency - maybe every 5 seconds when he would have an episode. It was really alarming and we ran him through a battery of tests but it was narrowed down to tics pretty quickly. Other eye tics that have made an appearance include rapid blinking and turning his head slightly so he appears to be looking out of the corner of his eye.

When the vocal tics occur they start with throat clearing (which is the most common vocal tic). This year he's mixed it up on us with also adding in a couple weeks of burping (which was okay, but not my favorite) and as I sit here writing this he's over at the table drawing and doing what can only be described as huffing (which is kind of like throat clearing but more dry). The only thing about this that bums me out is that it makes me feel like my own lungs are dusty. Since we're in cold season most people probably don't even know he's doing this and it may be his saving grace in keeping this under the radar from his peers. Finally, he does a cute little vocal tic when he is playing by himself that sounds like "pew! pew! pew!" and makes me think there is an on-going Star Wars fight scene in his mind.

The vast majority of the time he's not bothered by the tics (although it's fair to say he doesn't like talking about them and we don't push it). Of all the crazy things that can go wrong with kids - we feel pretty darn lucky. The only time I get a little sad is when I wonder if his peers will start to pick up on it but we'll cross that bridge then.

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