Neeta Elementary School Principal named 2015 NJCTS Educator of the Year

Nominated by Jen Heicklen and her daughters, Anna and Ava, Carole Ramage was chosen as this year’s winner by the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome

Neeta Elementary School Principal Carol Ramage accepting the NJCTS Educator of the Year Award from NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice at NJ Walks for TS in Medford Lakes on September 20.

Neeta Elementary School Principal Carole Ramage accepting the NJCTS Educator of the Year Award from NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice at NJ Walks for TS in Medford Lakes on September 20.

Principal Carole Ramage of Neeta Elementary School in Medford Lakes, NJ continues to be a source of support and compassion in Anna and Ava Heicklen’s lives. She has taken the girls under her wing, going above and beyond her responsibilities as a school administrator.

Ramage comforted Anna and her mother, Jen, early in Anna’s 3rd grade school year when she noticed Anna’s hesitation to enter school. Often, Ramage would approach the car and ask Anna to be her helper, easing Anna into her morning routine.

In fifth grade, Anna’s tics were becoming more noticeable to her peers and Ramage encouraged her to make a presentation to her class about Tourette Syndrome (TS). The presentation changed Anna’s life and she now feels comfortable knowing that everyone knows about TS and supports her.

Anna Heicklen now enters the school with the confidence Ramage helped her find within herself. For that Principal Ramage was nominated by Jen Heicklen to be the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) Educator of the Year. The Heicklen family recognized Ramage on the last day of school and the award was presented to her at the NJ Walks for TS at Medford Lakes on September 20. NJCTS annually recognizes teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, and other education professionals who are making a difference in the lives of a student with TS—an inherited, misdiagnosed, misunderstood neurological disorder that affects 1 in 100 school-age children.

“If it weren’t for Mrs. Ramage advocating for my child, she would not have presented to her class,” said Heicklen. “The presentation changed my daughter’s life. From that day on she has not been upset one day about attending school. She feels comfortable. Without Mrs. Ramageʼs influence on our family, this would not have happened.”

Anna’s younger sister Ava, who also has TS, was encouraged by Ramage to make a presentation to her third grade class. Ramage continues to update the Heicklen family with how well Anna and Ava are doing in school.

“She would send me texts during the day letting me know that Ava was doing well,” said Heicklen. “This information allowed me to relax and worry less about my kids. It is time for this unsung hero to be acknowledged and rewarded for her dedication to the kids for her selfless acts.”

NJCTS has granted Educator of the Year awards since 2001. More information about the Educator of the Year award is available by calling 908-575-7350 or visiting

Next Wednesday Webinar “Anxiety & Test Taking in School” is August 19

LOGO2Join us for our next webinar in the Wednesday Webinar series on August 19, 2015, from 7:30pm to 8:30pm EST.

Students from elementary to high school are taking more tests than ever. How does the anxiety around testing affect them and their results? This webinar will give parents and students alike ways to identify stressors and help students cope with the anxiety around test taking.

Dr. Colleen Martinez is a licensed clinical social worker and a registered play therapy supervisor with more than 20 years experience providing clinical services to children and their families. She has worked in hospital, correctional, outpatient mental health, private practice, and school settings, and specializes in play therapy and treating children. In her private practice, she provides supervision and consultation to individuals and agencies, particularly regarding interventions with children. She provides school based play therapy to preschoolers in Irvington, NJ and is also a part time lecturer at Rutgers University in their MSW program.

Register for the webinar
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the Webinar.

The 8 Things This Parent of a Child with Tourette Wants You to Know

As a parent of a child with Tourette Syndrome these 8 things are obvious. Here is my list of what I want folks to know:

  1. I have looked into ways of helping my child with tics and each kid is different. Saying it is sugar or video games is not the cause of the condition.
  2. Telling my child to stop or calm down does not help—it makes it worse.
  3. When you speak of his condition in front of him (just like any condition) he can still hear you!
  4. No, there is not a “fix it all pill.”
  5. The best medicine is for the person the child trusts to allow them to work one on one (without anyone interrupting us) each time a new tic comes on or when an existing one is worse than the last 6. Ignore it and let the parent handle it—please—and thanks!
  6. Usually the best medicine in reducing the tics is physical play—whether it is cleaning, chores, fixing something, being given a challenging puzzle, helping a kid who is not as intelligent because YES most all kids with Tourette’s are also highly intelligent.

To add to the above, here are some things that would be helpful to hear to assist the parent/child:

  1. “I understand you need time, let me leave you all be. If you need assistance, please let me know how/what I can do to help.”
  2. “Is there anything the child has or a place the child can go that calms them down to help release the tics? If so let me establish a place in public forums for this to happen.”
  3. “I am aware that the tics will change from day to day depending on various ways each child’s mind works—that is the whole reason each is different is due to the brain waves in each human mind working differently. No two stars are alike, no two snowflakes, and no two brains will ever be the same…ever and yet it is refreshing and scary all at the same time—same with death…no two deaths are the same and it is impossible to predict.”

Here is what would be helpful to reduce the amount of work I have to put into each public arena (i.e. school):

  1. Mandatory conference that all school staff attends—especially nurses or aide givers in the school should know how to handle a child with tics.
  2. Areas where a child can go with any neurological or physical disability where they can “let loose” and get their mind clear however they need.
  3. Natural examples of how the mind can heal itself from anything it is thinking.

52 Weeks of TS: Week 46

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. With just 6 weeks remaining in this series, there’s a chance you missed one more entries from his exciting, revealing journey. You can read all of them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

I’m tired!! I have to say, I think this has been one of the longest, most exhausting weeks that I’ve had in a while. I had a freelance job doing hair and makeup for a high school musical, which I do about 5 times a year, but this one was different. I usually design the show three weeks in advance, but I missed two weeks. I ended up designing the show on Monday, and we opened on Wednesday. This just made for a very stressful week, not anxiety, but a lot of stress.

Just like anxiety, stress triggers my tics, so it’s been a very ticcy week. I feel as if my brain has been bouncing around inside my skull all week. My neck tic has been bad all week, and I’ve been taking aspirin for the constant headache that does not seem to go away.
Usually, I try not to suppress my tics in my everyday life, but while I’m working in the high school all bets are off. I just feel as if I have to suppress them.

I guess it has to do with my own high school experience. There was always constant mocking and my fellow students were always making fun of me. Once I walk back into a school, it tends to bring me back to that time and place. It’s a cruel world we live in. I try not to suppress my tics in many adult situations, but when you’re dealing with uneducated ignorance and immaturity of high school kids, it can be hard to explain. How do you teach someone something who thinks that they know everything?

A person with Tourette Syndrome has to have thick skin. It’s not something we are born with, but we have to grow it. I thought about this a lot this week, and I’ve realized that we have been supplied the greatest weapon for our fight to educate — our mouth. The more we open our mouths, the thicker our skin becomes and the stronger we become, but it can be a hard thing to do.

When we are kids, we are scared, nervous and possibly beaten down by ignorance. It can take a lot for those shy kids to battle their own fears and demons, to turn around and speak about the very thing that has brought them down. Look at me. It took me about 15 years to start my battle against ignorance, and I still deal with fear. Despite the fear, I still try to fight the fight and continue to educate people.

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Self-control is very difficult with Impulse Control Disorder

There are things my son says and does that are out of his control. I only wish more people would be understanding of this, especially people that he is around almost daily. Not only is he living with Tourette Syndrome, he is also struggling with other underlying disorders, one of which is Impulse Control Disorder.

Within his impulse control, he may say things at the wrong time or make a joke at the wrong time. Inside his mind, these are totally acceptable. He may call someone a name — “stupid” or “idiot” — and not realize that it is going to hurt their feelings. He may burst out with anger saying things that are really offensive toward those he loves and later apologize because he realized his actions have hurt someone.

He has a lot of anger built up every day, and he has no idea how to deal with it other than letting it out. He has gotten so much better at releasing it through stress exercise; however, nobody is perfect. So I ask that, if anyone who is around a child like Kane hears this, or sees the rage, please understand nobody but that child knows what is going on inside.

I love my little stinker to the moon and back!