Is this a tic?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MidwestMom, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My son is on no medications. He was at Parent/Children Night for high school tonight and had to talk to a lot of people. He does not make the best eye contact, and I noticed that, even when he knows someone well and is pretty comfortable with the person, he sort of looks off to one side and one eye seems to twitch a little bit. No doctor has ever mentioned it and I didn't notice it much before today because I rarely see him interacting with that many people. Does this sound like a tic? Is there such thing as a nervous tic that is not medically significant? He does not appear to have seizures and, in spite of being on the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) spectrum, is not a spacey kid. I am thinking of taking him to the doctor, but I"m afraid it won't happen Help?
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It may not be a tic as such, but still a way of coping. It's perhaps worth mentioning to the doctor, but also - why don't you just ask him why he does this? he probably has a perfectly logical (to him) reason for doing this.

    I've mentioned before - unless a tic or stimulant is socially unacceptable or causes problems (such as tooth grinding which can lead to teeth wearing down and jaw muscle spasms) we don't interfere. We've found our kids do better and are less stressed if we leave them alone. They ARE often aware of social problems resulting form some tics and stims and were they are aware of it, they do try to move towards tics & stims (especially stims) which are less obtrusive.

    Have you read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon? It explains stims from the point of view of the person on the spectrum. The character in that book (it is fiction, a novel, but brilliantly written) does not make eye contact for reasons which are well explained - he says he can pay better attention to what people are saying, if he avoids eye contact. The book explains a great deal about exactly what it can be like, living in an autistic brain.

    What your son may be doing, could be the best way HE has found, to get as much information as possible from what the person is saying. WE consider that the best way to listen to a person is to also watch their face - we observe the movement of their mouth (which also helps our brain 'double-check' the words spoken) and we also scan their face for hints in facial expression that can indicate subtle nuances of mood in the speaker, so we can then 'colour' the words we hear with the overtones of relevant emotion. But for someone on the spectrum - such messages are often misread and can lead to misunderstandings. That is often a reason for them failing to make eye contact - so they won't be DISTRACTED by the speaker's body language and facial expressions, which to someone with autism can seem to be out of context.

    They find all sorts of interesting ways to both gather the information they need, and do it in as socially acceptable way as possible - for them.

    From what you've said before, I gather that you are raising your son to feel good about himself and his diagnosis. If so, he should be approachable on the subject, you should be able to discuss this with him, find out how aware he is of what he is doing and if he has a reason. Or maybe he was just a bit bored and was trying to maintain his interest?

    One thing I've found - there's never a dull moment with these kids. If he can help you see through his eyes, it can help you (with your wisdom of years and life experience) to ease him along the path to a productive independent life.

  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Most tics are "medically insignificant." They can be induced by anxiety (or medications, but your son isn't on them), but also tend to come and go on their own. Many boys outgrow them after puberty. Honestly, my son's psychiatrist and neuro see his tics all the time, and they're NOT concerned.

    Having said that, I know that sometimes eyes can twitch when they're tired.

    Can you check in with your pediatrician or an eye doctor about the situation?
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Marg and smallmom, both posts were very reassuring to me and I thank you both very much. I WILL ask my pediatrician. about it and I'll try to find that book, Marg :)
    Yup, never a dull There were a few kids he knows REALLY well and his face just lit up and he ran to talk to them. THAT was very exciting. But when most kids said "hi" he did the gaze off to the side and eye tic
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    It sounds like a "nervous" tic.

    We have a priest who has one that I've noticed whenever he is up in front performing mass. His shrugs one shoulder and cocks his head to one side as he is speaking. He doesn't do it when he's just talking to one person -- usually just in front of a large group of people.

    Is you son aware that he does this?
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You know, I never asked him. Didn't want to bring it up to him and make him feel even more self-conscious. But last night I noticed he does it A LOT. I AM going to talk to the pediatrician. My guess is it's a nervous tic, but I want to cover every base.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    MWM, if what he's doing is often and noticeable, then other people in his life far less considerate than you will already be mentioning it to him.

    He's your son, you know him best and you also know his world best, so think carefully; but chances are, you won't do any harm by saying to him, "Honey, I've noticed you doing this movement a bit more lately. Are you aware of it? It's OK, it's not a problem, I was just wondering..."

    If you have any odd habits of your own, especially ones your family teases you about, use that as an introduction. "You know, everybody has some little habit or other..."

    Is he really likely to be self-conscious about it, or are you just worried because maybe you would be, in his shoes?

    If it's just a nervous tic, he mightn't be aware of it; or he might only partly be aware of it. If he tries to suppress it, then some other way of coping has to develop.

  8. Calgon_Take_Me_Away

    Calgon_Take_Me_Away New Member

    It's only a tic if it lasts 6 months or more is what I've read about tics.

    I'm known to get eye twitches or low cheek twitches when I get stressed (finals time were big twitchy times).

    Maybe just give it a couple months to see if it settles down. Of course if it really takes off, mentioning it to the dr wouldn't be a bad idea.