Taking medication for ADHD but have Tourette’s

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    • #65630

      Hi, my teenage daughter has Tourette’s Disorder and has been diagnosed with ADHD. We are looking at various treatment options with medication. The difficulty for us as a family is this : Methylphenidate (Ritalin) has been mentioned as the first drug she should try, however we’ve since found out that it’s NOT recommended for people who have TS! It can make tics much worse because it’s a stimulant. Several people with TS or who have a family member with the condition have advised me to stay away from it.

      Is there anyone who’s been in a similar position? I honestly don’t know what to do. The doctor has told me that I need to think about my daughter, but I will not be pushed into putting her on something that could make her quality of life much worse. If other parents are able to share their own experiences I would be so grateful. Thanks.

    • #65640
      Penny Williams

      I don’t have personal experience with Tourette’s to share, but I have seen parents who have the side effects of increasing tics with stimulants, and some who didn’t have that issue. Unfortunately, the only way to know if it will make tics worse for your child is to try it.

      Guanfacine (short acting Intuniv) is sometimes prescribed for Tourette’s and it’s commonly used for ADHD. That may be a more cautious place to start treatment for her.

      This article outlines more treatment options for Tourette’s:

      How to Treat Tic Disorders

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

      • #65669

        Thanks for your reply Penny. Really appreciate it.

        I’ll have a look into Guanfacine and will also read the article. We have an appointment coming up shortly and it will be good to go into it knowing a little bit more about the various medication treatments. It’s just such a big decision to have to take.


    • #65707

      Hi. I have had tics all of my life and am combined type ADHD.
      Although I have taken Ritalin in the past and don’t recall any increase in Tics, I now take Stratera along with antidepressant effexor xr . Stratera is working well for me helping me to think things through, giving me some space between thoughts and reactions.
      It might be worth a try. A careful caring medical provider also makes a huge difference . After an extensive diagnostic interview I think it is likely I have Tourettes, I don’t think much about it anymore. I accept my tics and people who know me and love me don’t seem to mind. Stratera is a gift in my life giving me hope that I needed.

      • #65710

        Hi and thank you for sharing your own experience.

        I’ve spoken with a couple of people who have told me that Straterra (Atomoxetine) works really well for them and their children where Ritalin has not. It is reassuring to hear that it also works well for you and that your past experience of Ritalin did not result in any increase in tics.

        I’m not averse to the idea of my daughter taking any medication. Indeed, I feel that this is probably the right thing to try. What I do not want is be pressured by any doctor into putting her onto a medication that may make things so much worse for her when she already has enough to cope with. I may not have Tourette’s and ADHD myself but I walk in my daughter’s shoes each day when I see what she is having to cope with. No doctor, unless they have actual personal experience, could ever fully understand this.

        I think that the final sentence of your post says it all really – and by telling me this you have also given me hope for my daughter at a very difficult time. Thank you so much.


    • #65711

      Hello, my son is 10 years old and he has been diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 8. He is not on any medication and does okay in school. He does get very emotional very easily and does things impulsively that can be dangerous but for the most part he is a young boy who is full of love.

      Around April of this year, he has started getting some tics in his eyes. They happen periodically anytime of the day and increases drastically when he’s doing math/ thinking hard or sleepy .

      His eyes open wide, and his pupil goes from the side to the centre of his eyes 3 times. When he’s having his tics, there are no other emotions on his face, even if he was smiling before. It goes back to normal once the tic has happened .

      Kids make fun of him in school, the call it retard eye and my son gets so hurt

      He used to jerk his head left to right in order to keep his eyes in focus , but turning his head 30-60 times a day was getting too tiring and it was starting to hurt so he stopped.

      The doctor said it’s nothing to worry about but I am trying to get second opinions, do any of your kids have ocular tics too?

      • #65716

        Hi, I’m sorry to read that your son has developed some tics in his eyes. My daughter does have eye tics too and started getting these at around age 7 or 8 if my memory serves me correctly. Her eye tics are different from your son’s; in my daughter’s case her eyes can roll right back in her head very fleetingly, showing the whites of her eyes and it can look rather strange to an onlooker. Due to the nature of Tourette’s, her tics wax and wane (basically they can make an appearance for a short time, then disappear before reappearing weeks or months later). I’m really sorry that your son is being made fun of in school. Please don’t let that go – talk to your son’s headteacher. My daughter experienced terrible bullying because of her various tics and her confidence was badly affected. As a parent, there are times when I feel absolutely gutted for her but I cope by working towards making every day better for her by educating myself & my husband and getting her school to understand and support her.

        For many years, we did not realise that what my daughter had were tics. We thought they were just ‘habits’ and that she would grow out of them. The tics were so infrequent at the start that I didn’t even think of visiting the doctor. It was only when she hit her teens that the tics increased in nature and frequency so she was referred for assessment. My advice to you is go with your gut instinct and if you feel a second opinion is necessary, seek it out. There have been times when my daughter was seen by a GP but because she wasn’t ticcing (she held them in), they wouldn’t take my concerns seriously. Once we left the surgery, all the tics started to make an appearance! You know your son best. You could try and keeping a tic diary and maybe video any tics to take along to a future appointment. That’s what I did.


    • #65715

      My family came through the blessing of adoption so my biological connections are to sisters and generations of neices and nephews.
      At least one nephew 2 great nephews and one great Neice have ADHD none with obvious tics except my Dad and 2 older sister with body tics.
      Because I was born with crossed eyes all focus on my tics was related to wearing glasses 🤓 beginning at age 4.
      If you can get your little guy to experience facial relaxationk , he might feel the difference and eventually realize the difference between tense and relaxed.
      I rarely remember the huge difference.
      Enjoy your amazing child and his special gifts.🤗

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