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.
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.
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!