Tic Talk

For the past month I had been dreading the start of school for one child and praying for it for the other. Peanut would have been happy to start back the day after they got out in June. Bug, however, would have been happy to wait another year or two before having to go back. He was dreading the start of school even more than I was and here's why:

  1. His sister, Mrs. Bickerson aka mini-mom, is in his class this year (4th/5th combo).
  2. His sister will need to breathe some of the air he may need to breathe this year.
  3. His sister may look at him in class.
  4. His sister will tell him what to do, either verbally or through a Vulcan mind-meld.
  5. His sister triggers the worst motor/vocal tic he's had, to date (something resembling a pterodactyl being cornered at a pentecostal big tent revival).

We have been working for weeks with his therapist, psychiatrist and sister to allay his anxieties, but he wasn't convinced. We pointed out that his Bestest Friend Ever would be in his class this year, too. Small consolation, in his opinion. We forewarned the teachers, adjusted the meds, and used all of the distracting techniques we could muster. We even enlisted the help of Sam, the dog. Thank God for Sam.

You're probably familiar with seeing-eye dogs for the blind. You may even know about therapy dogs used in hospitals or convalescent homes. If you're really keeping up on pet-therapy trends, you've probably even heard about service dogs used for a variety of disabilities like diabetes, epilepsy and the like. Enter the latest and greatest job for the pooch, tic diffuser.

It may have been a total fluke, but one day Bug was in the middle of a full-blown Ptery fit, completely losing it, his body jerking, arms flailing and screeches emitting when Sam calmly walked up to his side and sat down. Bug put his hand on top of Sam's head and a magical thing happened. The tic stopped. No flailing. No screeching. No jerking. Just calm. It was surreal. It was like Sam diffused all of those misfiring electrical impulses.

Thus began Sam's new job. When Bug's Ptery tics would start, we'd tell Sam, "Go to Bug." We'd take Sam to Bug, have him sit or get Bug to hold his collar and pet Sam's head. The tics didn't stop, but the severity and duration decreased with Sam's help.

Bug was still dreading the first day of school while his sister anxiously awaited her return to the social and educational world she loves. Then another odd thing happened. Bug hopped into the van Monday afternoon and proceeded to tell me that he and his Bestest Friend Ever decided that this was the Best First Day of School Ever.

Peanut, however, reverted to what we call "Kindergarten Syndrome". She's been able to keep it together all day at school, but is a complete wreck at the end of the day. She's moody, tired, unreasonable and totally unlike herself. She spent Tuesday afternoon sitting on the edge of the pool melting down because her brother was making the water move and thus preventing her from getting in. (Keep in mind, it was well over 100 degrees that afternoon. A cat would have been happy to get in the water.) Last night, we had to turn off every last light in the house so Her Royal Highness could get to sleep as the glow of the lights in other rooms was rendering this feat impossible and her own bedroom door could NOT BE CLOSED.

I've given up predicting what will happen next.