alarm clock new normal

Our New Normal: Parenting Our Child With Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, ODD


I have an weekday mid-afternoon alarm.  It goes off everyday signalling the end of school.  It is the sound of my son’s blood curdling shriek the moment he is “home”.  Home to Nate is the place in his world that he is free of scrutiny of others and he can let his guard down.  The garage door opens, then shuts and it is as if the whole outside world disappears and he is transported magically to “home.”

Click, (the garage door), screech, “F**k” (in the loudest voice you can imagine), bang, bang, “F**k”, screech, bang then “Mom?  Hi!

This is my alarm.  My signal that it is my turn.  Nate’s turn is over and he has likely done an outstanding job.  I no longer worry that his screaming and swearing will be heard by the neighbours.  I no longer worry about the noise or the coprolalia.

He comes in to to the kitchen.  “Hi Mom.”  His backpack bumps the counter and he says, “F**k”, screeches and throws his backpack into the corner.  He screeches again.  Then, “Sorry Mom”.

At this point I make a decision about whether I should ask him how his day was or if he has homework or if I should give him a hug and a kiss.  I really want to do all of these things but I play it by ear.

I had a rough day.”  He tells me.  He struggles to get his lunch bag out of his knapsack and ends up smashing it down on the counter in frustration at this simple task. Screech then a colossal “AHHHHHH!”, screech.

I wait for him to finish throwing his agenda and homework on the counter and move away from this aggravating task.  I go in for the hug and kiss.  I gently ask if the “situation” at school ended ok.

Nate generously offers a kiss.  The hug he endures because he knows he should.  I remove the force of my hug immediately after giving it to let him direct the duration of contact.  He tells me in 10 words or less what “I had a rough day” means.  He has usually sorted it out at school with the excellent support of his team. He throws the next test at me.  “Can I have a pop?” or “Can we go out for dinner?” or “Can we get a pony?”  Whatever the question is doesn’t matter.  He needs to ask me a question that he is sure I will have to say no to.  He puts on his puppy dog eyes and stares at me with the look that if he could only have one wish ever this is what it would be.

I say, “No”.  I don’t launch into an explanation of why I am saying no or ask questions or otherwise engage in the question.  “Where would we keep a pony?” isn’t going to help.  Just “No” and I move on.

New normal Neurologically Gifted

Nate is now irate.  He goes about his business yelling, “Why?” and “But…” and “B**ch” and “A**hole” and the screeching and banging ramps up to full force.


Depending on his day he will continue for a period of time attempting to engage me in the fight, banging, shrieking and throwing out profanities.

I wait.

Sorry, Mom.”


Mom!  I’m sorry!

Okay Nate.”

This may sound like a good ending but it is often not the end but the beginning.  If Nate doesn’t get the “feels just right” apology acceptance from me he can quickly ramp up to being irate again.  We start all over.  Only the second time he is feeling even more sorry and distressed, and the “feels just right” apology acceptance from me is even more elusive.  At some point I am able to convince him that I heard his apology, I accept it and I love him unconditionally forever and ever.

Then one more drill.  “Can I have a snack?

Sure Nate.

Thanks, Mom.”

Nate grabs his computer and enters his Minecraft world.  I go about making him and bringing him a snack with a smile.  The alarm has been reset.

Every day is difficult but really, it is so much better than it was -for both of us.  I would have never thought that I could see so many positives from this situation, nor be able to brag about all the successes that occur during this short period of time, day after day.

Continue Reading on Page 2:  Bragging Rights!!

15 thoughts on “Our New Normal: Parenting Our Child With Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, ODD”

  1. Wow. You are a wonderful parent. Thank you for explaining it all so well. My 8 year old is like this on a lesser scale. I am so proud of him for holding it together during the day, and trusting me to accept him when it all comes out at night.
    I am trying to teach him that he is not mean. Well done to your lovely boy xx.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Karen! I am really seeing that understanding and acceptance is worth everything. Nate may let it all out with me but I know so well how much it means to him, what I mean to him and the impact it has on his success. I know Nathan feels guilt, too but I reinforce all the growing and hard work he is doing to learn to manage his symptoms better. I point out how far he has come so he knows he is not just a mean kid but a boy with challenges who is moving mountains to manage them and that he should be very proud. Take care. Julie.

  2. So profound. You do get it, and Nate is so very, very fortunate to have a mother like you. You will always be a better mother, and a better person for it.
    My son is now 24 with tourettes’ and OCD, and many of the traits you mention are the same. Let me tell you, as he matured, I could tell that he started to appreciate the secure, patient, and understanding home life we gave him. He now lives 2 hours away, but when he comes home, after living every day self-regulating in the outside world, he still lets “loose”, because he knows he can.
    Didn’t mean for this to be so long! Take care.

    1. Thank you Eileen! I am so glad there are other mom’s like me and we can validate each other. I definitely am a better person because of my son. He is taught me more in his short life that I could have ever imagined! And I am always learning. I am happy to hear you and your son found your way too. Take care! Julie.

  3. So glad I found your blog, helps to not feel so alone. My son is 11, TS, ADD and OCD and he has so many of the same traits on a lesser scale but the anger is so hard to understand for me. It breaks my heart he seems frustrated and mad so much of the time. His tics are off the charts when he arrives home from school, and everything I do gets on his last nerve. Look forward to following your blog . Thank you for sharing


    1. Thank you deAnn. Thank you for sharing. We too, struggle with this. As parents, we get the most uncensored behaviour and it is good to keep this in mind. It is a sign of how much he trusts you to be there. Hope you have seen our next post “Why is My Child Mean?!? Understanding and knowledge helps a ton!

      1. see how my ADD kicks in, poor child got that from me I did read that article as soon as I got the email notification earlier in the week, and and it was a great article. As soon as I started to read it I realized I had even made a comment on the FB page about it. So glad I found this page, agian thank you for sharing !

  4. I have tears pouring down my face as I relate to this very situation it is as though you wrote about my daughter. Thank you got sharing a piece of your heart. And Nates.

  5. reading this has really given me hope, my son is adhd,odd and disorda of behavior and emotions and my word it has been so exhaustin and it really is parentin them a different way so relieved to hear how you parent him hallelujah i say xxxxx

  6. Julie… What you have written about Nates, sounds like what my son does; It’s just the same, Only difference is, he is 31. I too had tears rolling down my eyes. Our kids need all the support from us, and we need all the patience. Take care Julie.

    1. Thanks Jessy. I know I’m not alone enduring this and that does help. It is exhausting as you well know! Breathe deep often and remember how strong you are and have been. I will as well. Julie

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am pretty much doing that but definitely with your advises can adjust my daily life as well as my son’s. I already sent my husband your article in how to manage ODD behavior. He is stepdad and we need to keep our relationship with nurturing, love and appreciation of God.

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