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Regulation disorder
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Regulation disorder

I am a mother of a 3 year old little girl who loves to rock (side to side) & needs everything to be structured and I have had her into see a team of early intervention doctors. The query was autism but they didn't feel she met enough criteria to be diagnosed with it. What I was told was that she was sensory over-loaded and that she can't regulate her feelings and emotions the way most people can. She in the last few months grunts when she is rocking ( I think this must feel good to her) What I am wondering is we have a history of Tourettes in the family could my daughter have tourettes syndrome? Could this rocking be like a tic or is it just a way too calm herself??

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Hello,
   this rocking behavior does not sound like a tic, instead it sounds like a 'sterotopy'. A diagnosis of Tourettes is based on the presence of both motor and at least one auditory (vocal) tic. Stereotopies are repetitive behaviors that children engage in because they are comforting or stimulating, or if they hit a period of sensory overload (such as fear or great excitement). Autistic and mentally retarded children do engage in these behaviors more frequently than same aged peers, however, the presence of repetitive behaviors alone does not indicate that your child has a developmental delay.

   There are many children who have immature nervous systems that do not process sensory information efficiently enough to keep the child at a comfortable level. Most of our nervous systems serve as 'gates' that block out lots of sensory information (such as the buzz of fluorescent lights or the feeling of a shirt tag on our neck). When a child is getting too much or too little sensory input, she can be chronically uncomfortable. You may wish to consult the book The Out of Sync Child, which tells about how to help children with sensory processing issues. I would caution you that the author, Carol Kranowitz, makes very broad generalizations about how many difficulties of early childhood are due to sensory issues. Kranowitz also strongly recommends sensory integration therapy. While many parents feel that their children benefit from sensory integration therapy, the research to date of this particular treatment does not show a strong evidence of benefit to most children. That said, I do think it is well worth trying if you have the resources to do so.

Best Wishes
Rebecca Resnik
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