by TERRY VOELKER
Special to the Northwest Herald
SUNDAY STYLE March 1, 1998
I can clearly recall the day I first suspected my son, Nick, had Tourette's syndrome/attention deficit disorder. His kindergarten teacher told me at a conference that he loved to have fun. When they played choo-choo, he provided the sound effects. In fact, he was always making different sounds.
I asked the teacher to please keep us appraised of any changes or problems, but at 5 years old it's hard to tell what's being a fun-loving child and what's an affliction. In first grade I kept in contact with the teacher, who was wonderful about filling me in on the details of Nick's day.
He was bright and outgoing, yet easily distracted and restless. His papers were sloppy, his colorings half-done. I thought that surely by 6 years old he should have the patience to perform basic writing and coloring tasks. I felt it was time to contact a pediatric neurologist and have Nick evaluated. The doctor sent Nick to play in the waiting room and proceeded to ask me a series of questions.
Any facial tics? Yes, he blinks and rubs his eyes frequently. Any vocalizations or "annoying habits"? Yes, quite often Nick snorts as if his nose were stuffy and clears his throat.
His tics, frequent interruptions in conversations, his inability to focus on tasks and his general "hyper" disposition led the doctor to conclude Nick had Tourette's syndrome and attention deficit disorder.
The first decision to be made was how to treat it. We settled on a drug called Clonidine, commonly prescribed for people with high blood pressure. While Clonidine alleviated the tics, it made Nick groggy and red-eyed. It was really no help in keeping him focused.
Though I knew Nick had a confirmed disorder, I still felt like a failure as a mother. It was hard to understand why I was unable to control his constant interruptions.
I knew my love for him, perseverance and the aid of medication would only see us through day to day.
I hoped for a permanent cure.
That's when my brother discovered the HANDLE Institute. In his desperate attempt to find a treatment for Tourette's, he searched the Internet and found the institute's Web site. Theirs is a holistic approach to treating neurological disorders such as Tourette's, attention deficit disorder and dyslexia. He made the arrangements for an evaluation and subsequent exercise program.
When I saw his results after a few weeks, I knew this was the answer to my prayers for Nick.
Now 12 years old, Nick is like a new person.
He has nearly completed his treatment program and is not taking any medications. The only pills he takes are fish oil, flax seed oil and calcium/magnesium/zinc tablets. He is tic-free and his ability to focus and concentrate are greatly improved.
The fact that he comes home from school and does his homework, thoroughly and neatly without being asked or needing assistance, is a miracle. It's like everything I taught him was dormant inside and suddenly the real Nick has come shining through.