Haddon Township (N.J.) High School students learn about Tourette Syndrome

Faculty members of Haddon Township High School and student members of the school’s Psychology Club devoted time on February 2 to learn about Tourette Syndrome.

Known also as TS, Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by uncontrollable sounds and movements known as tics. Even though as many as 1 in 100 Americans show symptoms of the disorder, it’s still frequently misdiagnosed and misunderstood.

The New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS) Education Outreach Program offers school in-service presentations for faculty and students. For educators, the focus is on identifying and accommodating students with TS and its co-occurring disorders including ADHD, OCD, depression and anxiety. Students are given a lesson in acceptance, anti-bullying and empowerment.

NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice is grateful for the invitations to present at schools throughout the state. “Awareness and training go a long way in creating understanding of Tourette Syndrome and compassion for those who are living with it,” she said.

“Even if a teacher or classmate hasn’t met a student with TS yet, chances are likely that they soon will,” added Rice. “Our presentations are taking away the stigma of this disorder, and by doing we’re making schools a safer place for kids with TS and other neurological disorders.”

NJCTS School In-Service presentations are delivered by master’s level educators with (often personal) experience assisting students with Tourette Syndrome. For more information about the Education Outreach Program, or how to arrange a presentation for your school or club, visit www.njcts.org or call 908-575-7350.

I SAID YES!

Last night the guy I have been going on dates with asked me if I would like to go out with him officially. I said yes! :)

So now I can say that we’re officially going out and that for now I am no longer single. I like so much about him. I really like how open he is with me and that he is not afraid to show me who he truly is. I also really like his personality in general and how he is a really great conversationalist.

We always have something to talk about and it’s always engaging and thought provoking to be around him. I like that he wants to spend time getting to know me and he really seems to like me. He gives me so many complements and tells me how cute I am, how much he likes spending time with me, and how happy he is that he met me.

Today he opened up to me about some things that were more on the personal side, and even though I was hesitant to, I opened up to him more too. I told me that I have sensory issues and OCD traits. He seemed really OK with it and didn’t seem to think much of it at all. It didn’t seem to affect how he feels about me and after I told him that he asked me to get ice cream later tonight and hang out more.

This gives me more confidence that if I told him about my tics, it wouldn’t affect how he feels about me either. There is still that nagging thought in the back of my head though, that fear that he will not accept me. I know it’s just the fear that has been instilled in me by my parents that is making me feel this way. I know intellectually that he probably won’t reject me because of my tics. The fear and the emotion is so real though. I think at this point I just have to take a leap of faith and plunge off the diving board. I think the sooner I make the leap, the easier it will be to be myself around him.

I’m not sure when exactly i’m going to take that leap and tell him, but I am hoping I will have the courage to do it soon, maybe even tonight when we get ice cream together. I plan on telling him in a very casual way and not making a big deal about it. I’ll keep you guys updated on what I decide to do! Please wish me luck! :)

NJ Walks for TS really making a difference all over New Jersey

My name is Sarah. I’m a senior in high school, a Youth Advocate for the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) and Youth Co-Chair of the 5th annual NJ Walks for TS event in Mendham, NJ.

I am writing to urge you, your family and friends to come out and join us when NJ Walks for TS at Mendham on November 15. Click here to register.

All proceeds from this very special event support the NJCTS Education Outreach Program which provides information and training to teachers, doctors and students statewide to ensure greater understanding and acceptance for kids and adults living with Tourette Syndrome.

I have been a part of this program for the past four years and have personally presented a message of acceptance and stigma-conquering facts to well over a thousand school kids, teachers and doctors.

Not only does the program educate professionals but it provides kids like me with an opportunity to develop skills as a public speaker and advocate; and it also strengthens my ability to deal with my own Tourette Syndrome diagnosis.

Parents of kids with TS also present workshops to teachers and doctors and TS experts join our team to present grand rounds at hospitals in every part of New Jersey.

To date, more than 60,000 NJ teachers and doctors have attended our presentations. Please help this program to continue to grow by giving generously to our Walk and throughout the year.

We are happy to provide any additional information on this and other NJCTS program offerings. Thanks for helping us make an enormous difference in the lives of so many kids and families.

See you on November 15 when NJ Walks for TS at Mendham. Here is another way you can participate, too!

It is what makes us family

This whole month has been a crisis. Just when you think it is over, you think you have it all figured out, you don’t; or at least I don’t. I have gone about three years without taking medication. But all of a sudden it is all back and worse than ever. I cannot even walk into a library without feeling uncomfortable.

I was yelling metal and coffee, like seriously. I understand it is a part of me and everything, but no matter how much i try to cope with it, it just will keep digging and digging and won’t stop until I feel super uncomfortable. I just don’t know what to do anymore, I don’t want to go back to medication, I can’t ignore it, it is so obnoxious.

And I know a blog could be inspirational, but I just am being honest. This is really getting old and I hope everyone out there is doing great, all I know is that going to school and realizing you have something that other people weren’t born with makes you feel so uncomfortable, and don’t know if they will accept it.

I just am stoked for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders’ (NJCTS) 5th annual NJ Walks for TS at Mendham on November 15! This one will be so fun, and that’s honestly what I am looking forward to. So if anyone can make it out this year, I hope to see you there.

But just so all you know, having Tourette brings all of my fellow ticcers together. We’re a a family and we don’t let anyone get us down. Keep your head up, This has been the 10th year for me living with Tourette and I plan have it as a gift instead of a curse.

Being rejected by someone else with Tourette

I haven’t written about this on my blog yet, because truthfully I was unable to. It was a year ago that it happened, but I haven’t felt secure enough to write about it until now. It’s been a full year though and I feel like I have enough distance from it now and strength to not let it hurt me anymore.

A year ago, I was a sophmore in college who had come back to school after my first summer as a counselor at Camp Twitch and Shout. I felt empowered because I had made a difference in children’s lives who had gone though what I had, and I felt accepted and loved after being welcomed into the camp twitch and shout family. Coming back to school I was more confident, but still fragile. Other people still greatly affected how I felt about myself.

I joined a new student group on campus and opened up to them about how I was involved in the Missouri Tourette’s Syndrome Association. I didn’t tell them that I had Tourette’s, but I ticced enough that it was probably obvious. After one of the meetings, another girl in the club who was a year older than me came up to me and told me that she was a Tourette’s Syndrome Youth Ambassador and when I asked how she got involved, she told me that she had Tourette’s. I was so excited!

I told her I have TS, too, and that I wished I could have been a youth ambassador but I was too old when I found out about the program. Even though I recognized her as one of the people who interviewed during sorority recruitment for a sorority that I was rejected from and even though the people during recruitment from that particular sorority were not very kind to me, I was still excited.

She was the first (and still the only) person on campus I had met who also had TS. I saw the potential of having a friend on campus who truly understood what I was going through, who was older, and who I could look up to. I saw the potential of having someone on campus that I could have a strong relationship similar to the relationships I had made at camp. Of course I had amazing friends at school already, but the potential of having a friend on campus who also knew what it was really like to have TS was something that I felt could be really special.

I started telling her about myself and about camp and after about a minute she became very standoffish and distant. I was being nothing but kind and warm to her after she had opened up to me, and I was confused. After only a minute or two of me opening up to her, she suddenly said she had to go and walked away. Had I said something wrong?

Now that I had opened my mouth, did she think for some reason that I was just a really lame person who she didn’t want to be friends with? No, I thought. I tried to reassure myself that she must have really needed to go. She probably needed to study or meet up with someone. I tried to convince myself it had nothing to do with me, but after being rejected by so many people in my past because I was different, it was hard for me to truly convince myself of this. Deep down I thought it was something I had said, something that gave me away to be a nerd or someone who was not as “cool” as she is.

Later on, I decided to send her a message.

Continue reading