Over the last two years my son, who has just turned five, has had the occasional bout of motor tics that last for a month or two at a time. About six weeks ago he developed a new range of tics including a vocal one and he now does them constantly, I mean, non-stop all day!
Can you please suggest where we can take him for evaluation? We have been to a paediatrician and child psychologist but I don't feel we are getting the correct response. They spend all the time trying to determine what sets him off the most rather than diagnosing or treating him. Is there a clinic in Sydney at a hospital or similar that does this kind of diagnosis or treatment?
It is hard not to feel confused and even upset to see your child start to make the repeated, involuntary movements or sounds known as tics: coughing, blinking, or snapping fingers, for example. Tics are surprisingly common, however. Did you know that around one in six children are affected at some time or other?
If the tic persists, as it has done now for some weeks, then it is a good idea to see a child psychiatrist or psychologist for a specialist assessment and advice. You have clearly done exactly the right thing by making appointments to see a paediatrician and child psychologist.
Try not to worry, as tics are generally harmless and not a sign of anything more serious, even though they appear upsetting to us. In the great majority of cases, they simply disappear of their own accord. Rather than make a fuss, try not to draw too much attention to the tics (by radical changes in diet, for example).
Please do talk to the paediatrician and psychologist about how you feel about the response you are getting from them. Any caring health professional should understand your concerns and make an effort to address them, and give any information you need. It is understandable that they first wish to understand any possible causes for the tic so do hang on in there, and keep talking to them!
Some tics are more noticeable than others, so if your son's persists, then you may wish to check with his school about whether it is drawing attention there, and how the school is managing this.
If the situation is stressing you personally, then talk to the paediatrician or your own GP about what psychological support you may need for a while.
If you would like more information or want to discuss this further, call the free and confidential SANE helpline on 1800 18 SANE or send an e-mail via www.sane.org.