Tip #1 to Limit Tics: Reduce Electronics
by Caleb Davidson, TS Parents Online
December 14, 2015

In this article, I wrote a list of 20 things Iím doing to manage tics. I broke the list down into simple changes/habits vs. more technical. Because itís Christmas and I have so much to do that pretty sure Iíll be ticking myself, I am starting with the easy changes. Iíd love your opinion, too!

This article by Psychology Today suggests a screen fast of up to 3 weeks to calm the tics down. ďElectronic screen media ó since video games and computer use increases dopamine and tics are dopamine-related, itís understandable that electronic media worsens tics. For bothersome tics, I recommend a three week ďelectronic fastĒ to normalize brain chemistry and improve sleep (restful sleep improves tics in and of itself).Ē

Having gone back and forth with this for over 8 years (see this post from 2011 when I attributed the Nintendo DS to devilís dung) I have a few things to say about an electronic fast.

  1. It works.
  2. But is it worth it?

Yes, there are many moms (such as this post from ACN shows) that have seen improvement with their kidsí tics by eliminating screen time altogether, but this can be tricky if you have a child like mine. Sometimes the pressure and sadness over not being able to do what he loves make my kid tic more.
Many of my super holistic friends, as well as Stinkís naturopath, are of the ilk that just because a kid likes something doesnít mean itís healthy for them. For them itís a no-brainer (no pun intended on the messing up oneís brain-er part) that if something is bad for you, it must go.

I choose, for example, not to drink wine at all because 3 glasses of it makes me nutty. The thing with video games, for this mama anyway, is that I donít find the usage Ė in moderation Ė to be the same thing as drinking and driving over squirrels with my kids in the back seat of the SUV (playing video games).

Iíve decided, after battling the video game demon for 8 years, that a few tics in exchange for moderate video game use is okay. Itís not an all or nothing thing for us. Combined with many other healthy alternatives, Iím okay with it. For my kid, I let him play as long as there are adequate boundaries around it.

Hereís how I handle the video game usage:

  • None Monday Ė Thursday
  • 2 hours/day Friday/Saturday/Sunday
  • Exercise is a must Ė at least 30 minutes Friday/Saturday/Sunday
  • Continue with healthy diet (Zero gluten, dairy to be removed in January)
  • Adequate sleep
  • More to come when I go through the list

Video Games Ė The Great Motivator
My kid likes video gaming enough that I use it as a motivator to get stuff done. ďHey, Stink, want an extra 20 minutes of Mario today? I need my windows cleaned.Ē He wins, I win.

With my kid turning 13 in January, I am more and more aware that he is not a kid who fits the ďnormĒ by any means. He doesnít play sports. He doesnít care about popularity. He reads a book a week. He loves drama. He still collects Pokemon. AndÖ he connects with other boys who play video games. I am not willing to take away this love for him.

ADD vs. Tics
I am now looking at video games more from the angle of ADD and less from tics. The tics arenít a concern for him personally. He has friends and doesnít mind some twitches and noises. I am realizing that the ADD is causing more of a problem than the tics themselves, and this is the new lense I am viewing the computer time through.

To the Young Moms of Kids Who Tic
With your little tickers so little, you have the opportunity to set up the culture of your home in a way that works best for you. When they are small, itís easier to make big changes. Itís a personal choice but I say you should think about it.

Looking Back, Would I Make a Different Choice on the Video Games?
As for me, would I make a different choice on video games if my son were younger and I could set the parameters early? Maybe. But then again, even when he was small, I didnít make the choice to eliminate them altogether. My husband is a gamer. My kid, even at 3, loved to play Elmo on the computer. I suppose, deep inside, I wish my kid was into other things, but heís not, and guess what? I am doing the best I can. I set boundaries on certain behaviors, let other things go, and try to live with what is. (But I wonít lie: video game usage has been my biggest battle and one I still fight to this day. Itís tiring.)

What are your thoughts on this? Think Iím nuts for letting my kid play video games when maybe they would be less without them? (PS: My kid is back on Taurine and his tics are down 50%. Video game usage hasnít changed. For me, I made the right choice. More to come.)

Until next time, May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you canít change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

My book, Happily Ticked Off: A Tourette's Mom-Moir is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook.