Dr. Google, Parenting & Knowing When to Worry

It's time for a writing re-visit!

Sometimes, my Timehop brings up an old blog post, and I read it and it still resonates with me, or I find that it's a favorite piece of writing. 

I've decided once a week to re-post a few favorite and popular posts from my old blog, Scientific Nature of the Whammy, here at Ready Set Hope. Other re-posts can be found here!

Dr. Google, Parenting & Knowing When to Worry

Yesterday during bath time, I noticed something interesting. Sam has started whisper repeating the last word/few words of his speech. Basically, if he says "The monster is coming," it is immediately followed by "is coming, is coming" whispered, or "coming."

Today, he was still doing it. Justin and I have sort of tried to ask if he is doing it on purpose or if he knows he is doing it, but it's so hard to tell because he doesn't like to be asked direct questions sometimes and even if he answers, he's only four so it's hard to tell if he's telling you the truth or what he thinks he should say etc. I told my Mom about it and she heard it when he got home from school. She thought it was really interesting too, and had never heard of something ilke that.

Like any computer addicts, what do we do? Turn to Dr. Google, right? So Justin does a search and quickly finds Palilalia. I've heard of Echolalia before, and it's very similar. Then you start reading into it, and find that it's connected to Autism, Aspergers, Tourette's and OCD. And your mind starts going crazy. And you suddenly don't feel like it's strange, you feel actually WORRIED. Because this one article says that a lot of times when it's connected to OCD it can be triggered by Strep (which we all just had).

Then, if you're smart, you STOP.

Sometimes, as a parent, as a person in this information-rich world, it's hard to know when to worry and when to let things go. It's so easy to let your mind just run away, and to find yourself dragging behind wondering what got you there.

I did another search for 'whisper repeating,' and I found this page with dozens of people whose children do this, or who did/do it themselves. Some grew out of it, some didn't. Most of them are not autistic or OCD or anything, it's just a tic. It can come and go, and it's probably not a big deal. Justin found another site that said unless it lasts more than a year, and is combined with some other traits of whatever, it's not really a concern.

Then I found this great quote on another message board:

Our late, great ADD doctor (yes, you've heard me mention him a thousand times, and probably will again; but he changed my entire life by teaching me how to understand my kids) said this about tics:

Everyone has what he called a "tic threshold." Some kids have very low threshold (such as with Tourettes's); their tics are triggered very easily, sometimes constantly. Others have a high threshold so you will rarely see tics. But if you put ANYONE under enough stress, you will see tics begin to emerge.

For example, When I'm very tired, my eyelids twitch. That means I've reached my tic threshold. After a good night's rest, it goes away.

It's completely involuntary and often the child doesn't have any idea he is doing it. I wouldn't worry about it unless it begins to interfere with his normal daily routine or with relationships. Then I'd ask a doctor.
It's a little bit like a breath of fresh air, and it reminds me of one way I stay grounded. I remember that we all have differences. We're individuals with personalities that all fall along a spectrum. Somewhere on the greater human spectrum lies the autism spectrum. Perhaps we all have a little bit of it in us. Having one symptom of something, or having one trait on a huge list doesn't really mean anything on it's own.

The bottom line is that we have long known that Sam is not "typical," although what is that anyway? The more kids I know, the more I wonder if normal actually exists. He has had speech delays, sometimes he thinks differently than I would. He shows a lot of traits in common with Justin in relation to ADHD. He has some sensory issues. So, it's not really surprising that he'd move on from old quirks and develop new ones. Last year at one of our parent-teacher conferences, the teacher did bring up Asperger's Syndrome. She was not saying she thought he had it, just that there were SOME behaviors he possessed that would be consistent. Justin and I both agreed that we think it's just a part of how his ADHD manifests, but if things changed, we'd just handle it.

As a parent, there's always a choice, and an instinct. Even so, sometimes it's so hard to know when to worry and when not to. We have a beautiful almost-5-year-old. He is smart, he is amazing at memory, he loves Batman, and he tells his little brother that he loves him. He loves baths and doesn't eat much, and has a "million pounds" of energy most days. He is amazing, and he's fine.