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Pediatrics/Eye Blinking Tic - at worst with TV


Dear Doctor Olson

I wonder if you may be able to give me some guidance on something that is causing me a lot of concern.

Two weeks ago my 4 year old son developed what I would term a blinking tic. It started a few days after his 4th birthday.  It's a hard blink, often 3 or 4 times in a row where he squeezes his eyes shut then rubs them. It happens occasionally during the day, but it pretty much consistent when he is watching TV or inactive.  As soon as the TV is on he can no longer blink normally, it's such a trigger. If busy and engaged it subsides a lot and is barely noticeable.

We had a high street eye test which was normal, I trialled him on some anti allergy medicine to no avail, and I discussed the matter with my GP (not in front of my son so as to avoid drawing more attention to it). He said to ignore it in the hope it goes away. His preschool teacher and his child minder have both noticed it and we are all adopting the 'ignore it' technique we have been advised to take.

The issue I have is that he is very aware of it himself, he rubs his eyes and says he can't stop blinking and is asking if everyone blinks? He says 'I can't stop this blinking Mummy', so he is clearly stressed by it. I tend to say don't worry everybody blinks and then distract him. I am worried that the fact he is so aware of it will hinder it from disappearing, and am obviously terrified it develops into something like TS.

Are you able to give me any further insight, guidance on how to manage this in a child who is clearly very self aware of it already? Also, is this a common thing, my GP had no real experience with it which makes me think it's rare and so I should be more concerned?

Many thanks in advance for your time Doctor.

Kind regards
Jacqueline Milton

Hi, Jacqueline,

This is a typical childhood motor tic and as far as I am aware, has no relationship to TS.  I see probably a kid every several months with this and to me, it is a mistake getting eyes tests and using drops and stuff like this, for it just attracts more attention to this behavioral problem that will go away with time.  

Here is a handout I give to my patients.  Hopefully it will help you.

Good luck, dr. Olson


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David Olson, MD


I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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