Friday, February 1, 2008

What a Journey

I have a family history of panic disorders, unfortunately. My grandfather had agoraphobia (fear of crowds), my mother developed a freeway-driving panic disorder in her late forties, and I have a few cousins with the same driving disorder. My half brother, diagnosed with ADD as a child, recently started taking medication for a panic/anxiety disorder. Thankfully, I'm not affected nor is my sister.

It's Daniel I'm worried about. It seems that just as his ADHD-like symptoms subsided, he began to slowly develop nervous tics. It's only in retrospect that I'm recognizing this. A couple of months ago he started clearing his throat a lot. At the time we thought he might be developing asthma, because he had an upper respiratory infection that preceded the throat clearing, and he was getting out of breath on exertion at the same time. The illness subsided, but it took longer for the throat clearing to end.

Looking back, I think the throat clearning may have been the beginning of a serious of vocal and motor tics. Knowing it is rarely wise to do this, I searched the Internet this week for information on Tourette's Syndrome. What I found is that many people who have this syndrome also have other anxiety disorders (like OCD), or symptoms of ADHD. While I am pretty sure he doesn't have ADHD, I'm not so sure about early Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. After reading some of the signs and symptoms, we are very concerned. Right now there are only minor signs, such as the series of tics - which can be normal around six-years-old - and a preoccupation with germs, with the best food choices, and with fire or other household dangers. We definitely need to be on the lookout for worsening symptoms.

He doesn't wash his hands numerous times, or do any other compulsive act. But he definitely washes his hands more than most kids his age; it's after an outing to the library, store or somewhere similar. He even asks in the car, "Can I wash my hands when we get home?" I have taught him that the hands are the primary culprits in picking up illnesses, but I never expected him to over-react. What we are seeing may be the beginning signs of some obsessions. Age of onset is often 10.5, but there are always earlier warning signs. People with the disorder develop the compulsive behavior to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions.

Oh, my. Life is quite a journey, isn't it? Do I just have a quirky, fearful child on my hands, or is something more serious going on? I was a fearful child as well and stayed out of trouble as a result. It didn't end up hampering me, in my opinion. I never smoked, drank or did any other risky, rebellious or unsafe behavior, for fear of breaking the law and getting caught, or for fear of ruining my health or well-being. In short, I'm a careful person. I hope that's the extent of what I'm seeing in Daniel.

Regardless, God is along for the ride, and He gives out grace in abundance. We'll deal.

P.S. Spell check is not working on this site. Sorry about sloppy errors, if you see any.


Mama P said...

How odd that I just read this post. You know that my son was just diagnosed with Tourettes, right? And I'm here to tell you, that I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. I don't want a kid cursing in the fifth grade! But it isn't necessarily like that. And your son might not have Tourettes. Tourettes is just a series of vocal and physical tics that wax and wane in nature but hold steady for about a year.

Yes, OCD is common with Tourettes, as is aDHD. I have some OCD - of the mental kind, not physical. Shock, I know, with my rambling! LOL.

But I am telling you, pam, he is going to be fine. Do you know that most kids who tic are really really smart? They just have no way to release the pressure.

Email me seperately if you want and I'll tell you what I know and give you my #.


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