George started his psychotherapy sessions in October 2012. During this time he was seen on his own every week and my husband and I had a separate meeting every other week. Gradually, George started opening up more and revealed how deep his communication issues and lack of emotional competency ran. He built up a good relationship with his therapist and was able to use art and games as a way of explaining himself to her.
During this time his tics had become so bad he was ending up with bleeding lips and a sore face from constantly wiping his mouth, opening his mouth wide and rubbing his face. He also developed a tic which we didn’t realise was a tic, he regularly spoke in what I can only describe as a growly voice. George used this voice so much that we rarely heard his usual voice.
In November 2013 it was suggested that they would like to ask a colleague to sit in on the next meeting to assess George’s tics. Still at this point Tourette’s wasn’t directly mentioned. As the tics had been ignored for nearly 6 years we didn’t think there would be a diagnosis.
We attended the next meeting and was a little concerned that George’s tics didn’t seem as bad as usual and worried they wouldn’t be seen. The Dr however picked up on even his subtle tics and tics we hadn’t even picked up as being tics. We went through a list of tics he’s had in the past and a history of when they started. At the end of the meeting we received the news that George does have Tourette’s syndrome. It was a very emotional moment. We weren’t really expecting that diagnosis and it came as a blow. On the other hand here was the answer we had fought for all these years. It wasn’t bad parenting, lack of a bond, lack of discipline, a figment of our imagination; George has a condition, one we can get help for and finally start to get to know who George really is.
Once the initial shock wore off I was quite angry, for all these years I’d tried to get a diagnosis for George but instead was made to feel like a bad mother, paranoid I was making things up and spent years using discipline techniques that were detrimental to George’s well being. Things could have been so different for our family had we received this diagnosis earlier. The kicker for me was the criteria for a Tourette’s diagnosis is verbal and motor tics lasting for more than a year, this diagnosis was 5 years too late.
We were given a leaflet from Tourettes Action titled What Makes us Tic?, something we read through many times. The Tourettes Action website (www.tourettes-action.org.uk) has some fantastic resources and great information for schools as well as families.