Social skills and family support groups to start Jan. 12 at Rutgers

The Tourette Syndrome Program at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, in collaboration with the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS), will begin its annual 10-week social skills and family support groups from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at Rutgers University’s Busch Campus.

The groups are specifically designed to address social skills issues that arise within the child and adolescent TS population, as well as provide a supportive environment where children and adolescents can meet one another, give and provide advice to their peers, and learn about living with TS.

There also will be two additional groups that will run at the same time as the TS social skills group:

  • In the Parent Support group, parents of children in the social skills groups are invited to “share their experiences and struggles with parents who face similar situations and with knowledgeable mental health professionals who will provide many helpful suggestions and potential solutions,” according to Shawn Ewbank, PsyD, of the Tourette Syndrome Program.
  • In the Sibling Support group, siblings of children with TS will “learn about TS and co-morbid disorders while meeting other kids who have a sibling with TS and learning coping skills for their sibling-related struggles,” Ewbank says.  

Lori Rockmore, the clinical director of the Tourette Syndrome Program and NJCTS Tourette Syndrome Clinic at Rutgers University, believes these groups are an excellent resource for anyone affected by TS.

“(These groups) offer an opportunity for children affected with TS, their parents and siblings to connect with other families who have been living with TS and get the opportunity to talk about their struggles and triumphs,” Rockmore says. “It is a place to learn new skills and refine skills that are already in place. We have had wonderful feedback from the families who have participated in the past about this unique opportunity to get to know, on an intimate level, other families who are living with TS.”

The price to participate in any or all of the groups is $200 per family. Space is limited, so please contact the Tourette Syndrome Program at 848-445-6111, Ext. 40150, for more information or to sign up.

“Children and adults alike enjoy the groups for many reasons. I think the greatest benefit is gained from the ability to interact over many weeks with other families who have TS,” Ewbank says. “Families who feel less alone with their struggles feel better equipped to navigate the challenges that can come with TS. In past years, I have been impressed by the sense of community that has formed within each of the groups.”

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