Tourette’s Syndrome and Autism: How Diagnosis Helped Us


Change can be an enemy. Change disorganizes, disrupts and confuses.  Change can also refresh and relieve.

For over a year, Liev has exhibited strange and inconsistent behaviors that did not respond to conventional or intuitive interventions.

At times Liev is super-charged– as if he inhales pure electricity and discharges it in torrents of motion and sound.   He hops, skips, twists, shrugs and nods. Even in sleep his body twitches.  He snorts, grunts, clacks, chomps and spouts random words.

In our household, this seems rather normal.  Papa and I exhibit motor idiosyncrasies: I am seized by bursts of frenzied finger snapping while Papa smooths phantom wrinkles out of his trousers.

Moreover, our house is rarely quiet (despite the name of my blog). Someone is always making noise. My husband trains his voice with strange and exciting vocal exercises, which I echo with delight.  Orchestras of self-soothing sounds emerge from me as I cook, clean, or fold laundry.

Riot Week in the House
More like “Riot Week in the House.”

It was natural to assume autism explained all of Liev’s energy and sound.  We, his parents, brim with energy and sound ourselves.

When the cursing began and did not end, we knew something was different. This final clue sent us seeking answers. Now we have some and change is afoot.

November 9, Liev was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome (TS). His motor and phonic tics are classic indicators.  Cursing—the Tourette’s symptom the media hypes—is actually uncommon. Only 8% of Touretters curse involuntarily.

Maybe not every mother says, “Yay! It’s Tourette’s,” but I feel like it.  I fancy baking my son a Welcome Farty cake to celebrate.

Welcome Farty!

By identifying TS, our family’s quality of life improves—especially Liev’s.  Neurological conditions like Tourette’s require unique and specific behavior management plans.  TS tics are not the same as garden-variety mischief.

In fact, we used many TS behavior strategies intuitively over the past year. When I learned that ignoring tics relieves their severity, I was buoyed.  I can dismiss fears of our parenting creating unrelenting cursing and shenanigans.

We do not intend to “beat” or “defeat” Liev’s TS.  Tourette’s is as much of him as autism. We will focus on solutions and insights to promote quality of life for Liev and our family.

Come to think of it, this is not as much change as I first expected!

Bad Language: Summer of the Swearing Schoolboy

Bad Language: Our Household History

Compulsive Pestering and My Asperger’s Child

The Monkey-Shower Dream

12 thoughts on “Tourette’s Syndrome and Autism: How Diagnosis Helped Us

  1. Wonderful as always Lori. I totally understand what you mean about being relieved. When I heard Aspergers I was relieved. I had a word. A word I could learn about, a word I could use to direct my energies. A word that provided an explanation not an excuse. And, as for change, I have modified Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” to also include change. Because change is a given and a constant in life and if we know that then we can take the energy that we use being shocked by change to instead be more flexible and be prepared for change. I admire your flexibility and the love you have for your little family unit. Quiet or a riot, I think you are awesome!

    1. Thank you Charlotte. I really love this:

      “we can take the energy that we use being shocked by change to instead be more flexible and be prepared for change.”

      This is so true. At times, my energy flags because I am frazzled by being shocked by change. This is a great battles in my life since change means I need to put together a whole new script to follow! With parenthood, a person could soon exhaust themselves beyond being able to function with such a reaction.

      I’ve learned about being flexible by reading other’s blogs and witnessing their resilience. It is encouraging to read your blog and follow your journey because I feel as if I am traveling on the right path. Thank you, as always, for visiting, encouraging and sharing with me!


  2. I am so glad that you found answers and now you feel relieved. This great indeed! Noises? Oh, goodness this house is a stampede of singing,clapping,stomping, bouncing jollities all day long. Today I caught myself clapping and tapping, while Ariel and Joshua were singing and Daniel was playing the keyboard, only to spring about making one of his various types of vocal tic-ish sounds. Lately he has been clicking and “uh’ing” loudly if you can image that sound. 🙂 Hee hee

    I want to enjoy a fabulous “farty cake!” lol!

    1. You know, there is quite an overlap between TS and ASD! I think it all boils down to how much it interferes with one’s life. I think the two of us are a couple of hootie-tooters, because we derive such joy from the noise. It’s just a different form of poetry and song! What makes it different for T is that he can’t contain his inner energy and that it comes out in innapropriate behaviors.

      I love how our homes are “stampedes” of “bouncing jollities.” I feel blessed by it! I simple need to adjust to an additional scanadal of an occasional unintended four letter word!


  3. Yes, pass the farty cake over here too! *Giggle* What a way to embrace T! So glad for you all to have this understanding!

  4. This was very nice and gently introduced. I’d be very interested to follow your growing understanding of tourettes as it’s a suggested diagnosis for my oldest x

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