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Raising a Child with Tourette Syndrome: One Family's Story


Coping with Tourette Syndrome

It's important to give a child with Tourette syndrome a sense of purpose and a way to build self-esteem and confidence. For Jaylen, that meant setting up a Web site as a response to the bullying he encountered. Through his outreach efforts online, Jaylen is working to change the way others perceive the syndrome and deliver a strong anti-bullying message. He and his family now view his condition as a blessing that enables him to help others who share his experiences, either as a child with Tourette syndrome or as the target of bullying.

As far as treating Tourette syndrome, no cure exists, but there are some options available that can help.

Behavioral therapy focuses on relaxation exercises and OCD-related behaviors. Habit-reversal therapy aims to replace tics with less noticeable actions, or to teach people to suppress them altogether. While habit-reversal therapy didn't work for Jaylen, adopting a gluten-free diet did seem to help, and massage therapy allowed him to get some meaningful rest.

Every parent of a child with Tourette syndrome discovers little tricks that work for their child. During his "Oh no" tic, Jaylen also touched one of his ears. His mother discovered that she could use his preoccupation with keeping things even, an element of his OCD, to counteract the tics. She pointed out that he didn't touch his other ear during these tics. While he was considering this, she proposed that in order to eliminate the need to even things up by touching his other ear, he could just turn down the volume on the ear he did habitually touch -- and reduce the need to touch it. It's the type of unique solution that only a parent could discover.

Meeting and networking with other parents is a good way to share information, but it's also a chance to talk to other people who understand your experience raising a child with Tourette syndrome. You're not alone with the worries and difficulties involved. While this condition in a child can cause plenty of worry and heartache for a parent, it can also be an experience of hope, love and triumph, as is the case of Jaylen, who enjoys going to school, hanging out with friends and family, finding purpose in reaching out to others, and making big plans for his future.


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