As most of you know, our 8-year-old daughter, Rachel, has Tourette Syndrome. She was diagnosed when she was 5. Her tics are really quite mild, and she has handled the whole situation wonderfully. More than a year ago, our now-5-year-old, Silas, also began showing signs of TS. He started with some mild facial scrunching and has progressed to far more noticeable tics.
For a while, we weren’t sure if it really was TS with him or if he was imitating Rachel or if we were just hyper-sensitive and noticing everything. However, soon after we moved here, Silas started doing this squeal that I like to call the “bat-squeal.” I think the stress of moving and having his entire life turned upside down triggered this particular tic and brought the onslaught of TS symptoms — other more mild tics and some major impulse-control issues.
Lately, his tics are rapidly-changing, far more noticeable, and quite varied.
Right now, we’re hosting a group of teenagers from our home-church. The excitement of seeing old friends and a having an apartment-full of guests is really bringing out the tics in Silas. Today, he has been completely out of control. Like spinning in circles with a stuffed animal to knock over all the toy bins and scatter toys all over the floor — out of control. Like sticking his tongue out and smacking at people. Like screaming words he’s not supposed to say (“butt” “stupid” “shut up”). Out. Of. Control.
Earlier, he was opening a bedroom door, squealing, then closing the door, then opening the door, squealing, then closing the door — over and over and over and over. Then he ran across the room and jumped up onto a bed, bopped his head, then fell to the floor, then jumped onto the bed, bopped his head, then fell to the floor. He did that about 10 times.
A few minutes later, I asked him what he thought about his tics. He shrugged and said, “It’s pretty weird. I mean the tics are sometimes weird, and I just can’t stop. And I know they annoy everyone. And sometimes they even annoy me. It’s just weird.”
Of course, I cried. Most days, I have a sense of humor about the tics. But today . . . well, today, I know Silas is absolutely out of control. He knows he’s out of control. I am annoyed, even though I know he cannot really help it. And he knows I have been annoyed. So, today, Tourette Syndrome hasn’t been very funny.