32 answers

Tics in a 9 Year Old

My beautiful 9 year old daughter started developing tics last spring. She clears her throat obsessively, grimaces and rolls her shoulders. Her 'gestures' rotate. Early on I firmly asked her to stop what I thought were behaviors. It took a couple of months for me to realize these were uncontrollable for her. She is just starting to make comments like, 'I hope my tics stop before Middle School'. Otherwise she has seemed unaffected. She's very popular, to the point of friends copying some of her gestures, just because they think she's cool, I guess. Not in a teasing way. I haven't heard anyone has been teasing her.
She also dances ballet at a fairly advanced level. This is breaking my heart, she's so wonderful, but I fear she'll be limited by this soon.
Any ideas or help?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I've made an appointment with our pediatritian next week. I have talked with the doctor about the tics before and she seems unconcerned. I will push to have a neurological evaluation to rule out any other causes.
I have had my daughter use nutritional supplements, amino acid supplements and take a meditation class.
Interestingly, as we were visiting my mom last weekend, she suggested a simple Homeopathic remedy, Calms. I've given my daughter a tablet 3 times a day and she says she feels much better. Her tics are substantially less too.

So, that's what's happening currently, but I want to offer my deep gratitude for all your responses, thoughts and support,.
People shared about their own experiences, gave recommendations and expressed empathy.
This is an amazing forum and I am appreciative of everyone's ideas.

Featured Answers

Hi E.,

I have a friend that used to have tics really bad growing up. He now sleeps on magnets and wears them in his shoes along with good clean water and wholefood supplements. He has found that giving his body what it needs helps to keep him balanced.

If you would like more info email me and I can send you more info.

Have a great evening.

N. Marie

Hello E.. A friend of mine has a son in High School, he went through the same sort of tics all through elementary school and on to middle school. To make a very long story short, they found out that it was a form of terets (don't know spelling) but they were able to get him medication. Some of the tics went away completely and some of them mellowed out to almost being un-noticeable. Hopefully this helps you a little, but just an idea. Good luck!

More Answers

I agree with Mary, it sounds like Tourette's. I have a VERY good friend who has exactly the same symptoms (she told me they are very common in girls, boys have different tics). What I can tell you is that she AND her husband AND her son (yes, son and dad have it too) all lead normal lives. My friend told me that the tics are irritating and sometimes painful if too repeatative but can be controlled with medication.
You say your child is adopted, it may be worthwhile to see if there is any history of the birth parents.
I do think you should talk to a doctor. Good luck and let us know what happens. =)

It is time to talk to the doctor to see what can be done. What you are describing sounds like Tourette's (I'm not super sure of the spelling). Do some on-line research on the syndrome as that hopefully will be helpful and enlightening. Wish I had more to offer you. My son has an occassional mild tic from ADD meds. We took him off the meds, but the tic still shows up here and there. I do know that stress can make tics worse. Best wishes.

Hi E. -

You need to take her and have her assessed immediately by a neuropsychologist -- if you are in the Bay Area, I recommend either Stanford Psych or Children's Health Council. These are involuntary responses and she has NO CONTROL over them -- please stop asking her to stop -- this will only make her more anxious and cause more of the behavior.

Kids tic for all sorts of reasons, but often the underlying issue is anxiety. This will not go away on its own -- it will likely get worse if untreated.

Best of luck,


Have her checked for seizures!!!
There are different types...
If she should have any... I recommend the KETOGENIC DIET (drug free treatment)

Love, G.. :0)

"I know of nobody who is purely Autistic or purely neurotypical. Even God had some Autistic moments, which is why the planets all spin." ~ Jerry Newport

Hello E.. A friend of mine has a son in High School, he went through the same sort of tics all through elementary school and on to middle school. To make a very long story short, they found out that it was a form of terets (don't know spelling) but they were able to get him medication. Some of the tics went away completely and some of them mellowed out to almost being un-noticeable. Hopefully this helps you a little, but just an idea. Good luck!

Have you had her checked by the doctor? Some medical conditions, like Tourrett's Syndrome have tics as a symptom. I would talk to her doctor and consider a 2nd opinion if you are concerned about it. My heart goes out to you and your daughter, I hope you find a solution for her.


While I don't think a diagnosis for your daughter is the most important thing, I would like this opportunity to share what I learned after my husband was diagnosed with an OCD Spectrum Disorder in 2002. Talking to someone about her stressors is an excellent starting point if her tics become a bigger part of her life.

Anxiety in anyone can be alleviated by a number of things. We may tap our foot, count to ten in our heads, walk around the block before a job interview, write in our journals...the list is endless. After my husband was diagnosed with OCD, I learned that it is a spectrum disorder, and that some people's stress alleviating activities have a bigger impact on their daily lives. Think running back into the house to get the hall light (even though it is already off) versus not leaving the house until every light switch has been turned off and on six times.

Medication in my opinion should come after behaviorial modification therapy. When behaviors are not yet having a impact on her life, it is easier to talk about them and help her come up with more typical coping mechanisms. Because OCD is less a chemical imbalance than a behaviorial issue, it is one of the only ones that can be worked out with behavioral therapy alone. Medication can be avoided sometimes, or at least end up the best med at the optimum dosage.

I hope this helps, but all in all, she sounds like a wonderful girl and the advice to leave well enough alone is perhaps the most valuable of all.


Sounds like a mild form of tourettes syndrom. My husband has it and was not diagnoesed until his college years. Like you his parents (without knowing what he had) tried to stop the "behaviors" with no success.

Talk with your pediatrician and see if you can get referred to a neurologist. The best ones in Sacramento area are at UC Davis Mind Center.

Good luck!


Sounds like Tourette's Syndrome. You should consult a child psychiatrist or neurologist. She will need medication to control the tics.

Get her to a physician! N.

What does your pediatrician say? Has she been seen by a neurologist? Or a psychiatrist?

It's possible that ballet is an important domain where your daughter can rise above these kinds of very strong/uncontrollable impulses. Instead of being worried that her ballet may be impeded or stopped by these very troubling behaviors, perhaps you can really actively work with ballet as a tool. Good luck. this must be very hard.
longtime ballet student

Have you considered acupuncture/acupuressure for her? i hear that it is very effective for tourette's and you will not have to deal with side effects of medication.

here's some info on tourette's and acupuncture:


hope that she is better soon!!


Is she on any medication? I started a medication last year (and quickly got off of it) and one of the side effects was a twitch in my arm and occasionally my neck. Just a thought...
Perhaps it is a stress-reducing tic? Best of luck to you and your daughter.

I'd recommend Dr. John Sum - a neurologist at Valley Medical Center on Bascom in San Jose. (408) 885 - 5940 He's been a very good doctor for my son who has different issues. A friend of mine took her elementary school age son to him when he was having "ticks" and was very pleased.

Hi E.,

I have a friend that used to have tics really bad growing up. He now sleeps on magnets and wears them in his shoes along with good clean water and wholefood supplements. He has found that giving his body what it needs helps to keep him balanced.

If you would like more info email me and I can send you more info.

Have a great evening.

N. Marie

Please see a doctor who specializes in Tourettes syndrome. I am not suggesting that it is definate but it is very important to see someone right away. If this is the case then there are behavioral modifications that can help significantly but left untreated will be very difficult to help given the behaviors length of time being unaddressed. I know many people who have been misdiagnosed and given meds that will actually worsen the symptoms of ticks. Please see someone right away.

Hi E.,

Usually tics in children are caused by some emotional disturbances, however there could be other reasons.

I am a certified homeopath specializing in children's health. I have had a great success healing tics in children.

The symptoms of tics are an external expression of something going wrong inside her body. A homeopathic remedy will be able to correct this imbalance and your daughter's tics will go away after she takes a correct homeopathic remedy.

Best wishes,

M. Rosen, CHom
Certified Homeopath
840 Hinckley Road, Suite 110
Burlingame, CA 94010

It sounds like it could be either stress or neurological, but probably not very conscious. If you can, you might want to have her see a neurologist, which will either set your mind at ease or raise new questions that need to be addressed. And if it's just stress, there are tons of things to help with that, like biofeedback, accupressure and yoga. Kudos for being an adoptive mom, especially on your own. They're lucky girls (and I'm sure you're blessed to have them as well.)

Sounds very similar to what my daughter has- she's almost 9. About a year ago she started shaking/shuddering her shoulders, which went away for about 3 months, but reappeared in July. Then about a month ago she started clearing her throat & "ahem"ing all of the time. We took her to the doctor who found nothing wrong with her throat but in the course of talking about it to her I also brought up the shoulder tic thing. The doctor mentioned that this may be the result of an untreated strep infection. She swabbed her throat & also did a blood test to check for strep antibodies. The swab was negative but the blood test came back very high on antibodies. She put her on a 10-day course of antibiotics and also gave us a referral for a pediatric neurologist.

Her symptoms definitely improved after the antibiotics and were almost completely gone by the time we had our appointment with the neurologist. She asked about our family history of tics and it reminded me that my Dad had a lot of tics (I'd forgotten about that). It was reassuring talking to her, but basically there's not much that can be done, some relaxation & behavioral exercises. The diagnosis of PANDA is quite controversial (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders) there isn't really a medical consensus as whether it's a valid syndrome or not. My daughter's shoulder movement is pretty much back consistently now, along with an occasional cough, throat clearing, but it doesn't bother her - I think she's completely unconscious of it. Since my talk with the neurologist I'm also much less concerned with it & with "fixing" her (ie getting her to control it).

I'm waiting to see if it goes away or gets any worse before going any further,

Have you talked to your doctor about this? He/she might not be aware of PANDA (or subscribe to it), but a blood test could rule it out. Our doctor only knew about it because she another patient with much more severe symptoms. I'd be happy to give you her details and also the name of the neurologist we saw.

Let me know if you have any questions.

I agree with Joy P. - some of the responses you have received are quite scary. One response says 'it sounds like Tourette's'.
Having various forms of tics does not mean Tourettes syndrome. At 4 my son began having various forms of tics. Obviously, my husband and I were very scared at first. They ranged from opening his eyes and/or mouth real wide, moving his shoulders constantly, humming, clearing this throat etc.
There were a few times where they were pretty bad. They didn't bother him and no one ever made fun of him. The doctor said tics can be quite common and to not be too alarmed initally. She asked us to remain calm & to not make an issue out of it. Yes, it can be scary as a parent to wait something like this out. They gradually became less constant and now at age 8 I very rarely see any tics at all. Just wanted to add my two cents to say don't be scared by the
people that say 'sounds like tourettes'.

Hi E. H,

Have you taken her to a Dr. yet? Maybe a Dr. can help you figure out what the matter is.

All the best,

I don't know much about how ticks work, but I know I had two ticks when I was young. I think I developed them when I was in 2nd grade. I blinked my eyes an excessive amount and I sort of "snorted" through my nose by frequently pushing air out of my nostrils. I was not really aware of them until my mom asked me why I was doing it. I had no answer for her. I believe she took me to the Dr and to a psychologist. They were intially worried about me, but eventually they didn't see it as being an issue. After about a year plus, my ticks were gone. I just stopped. I can remember 1 or 2 friends asking me why I blinked my eyes so much, and i said "I don't know." They never teased me about it.

I have not had any ticks since, and I haven't even thought about it in a very long time. However, I can say I seem to be an overly sensitive person to certain things. When I feel rushed, or nervous, or stressed I can start to feel very itchy, mostly on my legs. I started doing that in late elementary school. Again the Dr's never found any issues with my skin and what makes the itching go away is a very hot shower. Also, during college exams I developed a slight eye twitch once or twice that went away once the exams were done.
So I would say I have a very normal life with no ticks, but I am very sensitive and my emotions can manifest themselves into physical symptoms on occassion.
So it could be that your daughter is just a very sensitive person. She may not be experienceing any seriuos stress, but something might be just "tugging" at her a bit and she is reacting to it in a physical way. I don't think that is a problem as long as she is happy in general.
The downside to being very sensitive is that your emotions and worries about yourself or others can sometimes take too much of you. The upside is that it will help make her a very compassionate and loving person.

Hello E.! God bless you for adopting!!!!! I pray that more people are able to do so and do it with all the love they have...so many children out there need parents!!

As for your daughter...you need to get her to the doctor as soon as possible. This sort of symtoms can be caused by many different things and it is very important that you find the source asap. It is possible that these tics can be treated with meds too...so don't fret. It will be okay! Thank the Lord that your daughter is handling it well...and that her friends are too. It's hard to ask for help and you've already passed that hurdle, so you're going to do fine. My daughter has moderate ADHD and trying to get people to understand it and accept it can be quite the challenge, but she is doing well...has a 4.0 in an accellerated program and just takes it one day at a time! She would NOT be doing so well if I had just listened to society and kept her off of meds. Her body needs them to function properly...and I thank God that I made the right decision! My best advice to you is...
Just don't blow it off. Your daughter NEEDS to see a doctor. It could be a pinched nerve, a neurological issue or even a chemical imbalance...but you won't know till you see a doctor. (I hope that doesn't come off as sounding rude. Definitely not my intention. Just straight to the point.) Good luck to you both and and God bless you and yours!

In his love,

I have read some of the responses and they sound very alarming. As a parent I would panic reading these and start thinking the worst. I would not worry too much yet but I would get your pediatricians opinion. I have had actual experience with my step son having nervous ticks. His started around age 8 or so when he started traveling a longer distance to our home from his moms. His would vary from throat clearing, head twitching, clicking his tongue, etc. They would come and go and sometimes be worse than others. At times he would not even be aware he was doing it but other times he would. My husband and I finally took him to the pediatrician for an evaluation. and she told us nervous ticks are actually quite common. She also said even though they might be annoying, try not to bring attention to them. She said most likely he would grow out of them. He is now 12 and we don't really see the ticks anymore. Once in a great while when he is under stress he might have a head twitch or 2 but nothing even close to what they used to be. My suggestion is to get him in to your pediatrician for an evaluation but don't worry yourself too much. I hope my personal experience brings some ease to your situation and I hope that your daughters nervous ticks are nothing of a serious nature.

Hi E.,

First of all, I want to commend you on being a single mom to two adopted girls. What a blessing!

Second, you hadn't mentioned seeking medical advice on this so I'm not sure if you've already taken your daughter to the doctor or no, or if you have a diagnosis yet. If you haven't, I would recommend that because there may be things that can help. I'm not a doctor, and I don't want to throw a diagnosis at you. Most of all I certainly don't want to worry you, but I do have a similar story to share. I have a close friend whose son has this issue also. He was diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, but is on medications(for various issues) now and doing pretty well. He's in high school now, but it's been a hard struggle for them at times. He was about the same age as your daughter when he was diagnosed. Also, I know that stress can make the tics worse for your daughter, and it may even be the cause of some of these conditions.

I'm so sorry that you're all going through this. I know it must be difficult for her and you to have her friends mocking her, even if they're not teasing. She sounds like a wonderful girl, and she's lucky to have a loving and supportive mom. I hope you get the answers you're looking for.


Dear E.,
When I was a little girl, I had a friend who had tics and grunted and twitched and couldn't control what came out of her mouth. I was especially nice to her because I felt bad about it. That was way before the days we knew anything about Tourette's Syndrome.
That said, I have noticed my son picking up on the habits of other boys who have long hair. He shakes his head and flips it back like he has the longest locks on the planet to get out of his eyes. It was just a habit and something he picked up. He didn't even realize he was really doing it. No harm done.
I don't want to upset you, but your daughter could have a touch of OCD. Her gestures could be rituals that she feels the need to complete before she can do anything else.
My son went through a thing where he was afraid to watch anything on an odd numbered channel and could only stand the volume to be set at an even number. He was afraid something bad would happen if he deviated from that.
I purposly set things on odd numbers or channels so he can see that nothing bad will happen.
Just hang in there.
When my kids have gone through their phases of making faces or shaking hair they don't have or whatever, I do the same thing. They find it ridiculously funny and quit.
Your daughter may not be able to help herself though, so try to get her some help and to the bottom of it.

I would take your daughter to a pediatrician specializing in neurobiology to rule out anything more serious. Tics can sometimes signal other issues and often they come up in preadolescence.

Hi E.,

So sorry to hear of your little girl's plight. On Montel Williams show they once had a segament on Tics. I know Montel's show is off the air now, however, you could maybe e-mail or call the TV station and see if you can get a copy of the segament. The children on there was severe, but to find out all you can about the disease is best.

Good luck-I commend you for your decision on single parent adoption. D.

Hi E.,
I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. You should consult a psychiatrist immediately-- I'm a family therapist, and I believe there are medications that can help reduce her symptoms dramatically. If you would like a referral, let me know where you live and I'll see what I can do.
Best of luck!

Hi E., Have you spoken with you daughter's pediatrician about her tics? And has he observed her? If he shrugs it off, I strongly recommend you ask him to refer you to a specialist so that you can have your daughter can be evaluated.

Her symptoms may be an indication that she has Tourette's syndrome. Or you may find that she has some other treatable condition that will make her more comfortable.

I have friends who have two children with Tourette's. When their oldest began to exhibit symptoms they were mystified. But they found a good doctor, joined a support group, and had the support of their friends and family.

With the appropriate medication, the love, support and understanding of their parents, and good counseling, both children (who are now young adults) are doing quite well.

Good luck to you and your daughter.

You should take her to doctor for a referral to a neurologist as there may be testing to check for Terretts and other potential things that can cause tics.

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