Back on Medication, Sort Of

Three weeks with no medicine ! But that ended today at his psychiatrist appointment. Javan’s motor tics have become so severe that the doctor is legitimately worried that he’ll develop painful muscle spasms from the constant harsh movement. It’s mainly large and quick neck movememts, but has effected arms and hands as well. He prescribed Guanfacine (brand name: Tenex), which can help in two ways: one, it can greatly reduce or eliminate tics, and two, it can help him sleep better and/or longer. Increased sleep can in and of itself reduce tics.

If you’re like me, your first thought when I mentioned tics was, “Great, now he’s got Tourette’s too.” But Javan’s psychiatrist told us that this does NOT look like Tourette Syndrome because the criteria to meet that diagnosis include having both motor and vocal tics. Javan does not have vocal tics. The following article talks about Tourette’s, but I want to be very clear that at this point that’s not what Javan is being diagnosed with.

In this article on treating Tourette Syndrome, the Mayo Clinic says that “guanfacine (Tenex) — typically prescribed for high blood pressure — might help control behavioral symptoms such as impulse control problems and rage attacks. Side effects may include sleepiness.” So I guess this medication has the potential to help us in those ways as well. And I don’t see any serious side effects listed.

So, if it’s not Tourette’s, what is it? The doctor was also certain that this was NOT rebound dyskinesia, meaning the tics are not caused by taking Javan off of too much medication too fast. He said Javan has probably had an underlying tic disorder for some time that  was being covered up by the medications he was taking. He’s not diagnosing him with complex tic disorder, because the tics have to be present for one year to warrant diagnosis.

He did tell us that lots of kids get tics at some point and they can outgrow them in adolescence. We’re hoping for the best.

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