Although legislators agree mental health issues are important and deserving of continued funding, one very active and important group is marked for elimination from this week’s New Jersey 2007 fiscal year budget hearings. Since 1994, the Tourette Syndrome Association of New Jersey, Inc. (TSANJ) has supported the needs of thousands New Jerseyans. Now it faces the very real risk of being forced to curtail or completely eliminate many of the programs which New Jersey families, as well as medical and teaching professionals, have come to rely upon.
We at TSANJ are devastated by the news that support from the state may stop, and distressed that we may not be able to continue to give help to those suffering with TS. Fiscal concerns should always be balanced with compassion for those who need help, and it appears that’s not happening for this particularly vulnerable population.
In the past, the state of New Jersey has proudly supported their TS population with grant money for TSANJ, and the association has been praised for exceeding goals and expectations including:
- leading the nation in teaching educators how to work with children diagnosed with TS, ADD, OCD and associated disorders;
- training over 50,000 school personnel and thousands of medical professionals throughout New Jersey who in turn, provide invaluable support to children, adults and families living with this devastating neurological disorder;
- launching in 1995 the nation’s premier TS program, New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS)—which TSANJ created by pooling the talents of Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and the UMDNJ teaching hospitals—to provide diagnostic and treatment for children and adults with TS, training for new and experienced professionals, and coordinated research opportunities for scientists looking into the causes, treatment and cures;
- helping to create the nations only “shared DNA and Cell repository” for genetics research on TS, allowing scientists from all over the world to study the causes and search for a cure TS.
However, all of this progress will end if funding is stopped. Thousands of people in New Jersey rely on TSANJ—as will the thousands of new children who will be diagnosed in the coming years. Without continued support from the state, families will be forced to fend for themselves once again to deal with a life-long psychologically, emotionally, socially and physically debilitating condition, with no known cure and still too few trained specialists.
I invite you to visit our website at www.tsanj.org to learn more about Tourette Syndrome and how important this funding is for thousands of families in New Jersey.
To show support for TS families in New Jersey, please contact your representative and encourage them to continue funding this vital program. They can be reached by telephone number, address or email, by visiting: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/Roster.asp
Tourette Syndrome Association of New Jersey
Founded in 1994, TSANJ is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the needs of New Jersey families and individuals with Tourette Syndrome. For more information about TSANJ, visit their web site at www.tsanj.org or call Faith Rice, Director at (908) 575-7350.
About Tourette Syndrome:
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is an often-misunderstood condition. It is a frustrating neurological and psychological anomaly affecting as many as one in one hundred individuals—that is 80,000 people in New Jersey alone! Appearing when a child is 6 or 7 years old, TS is a life long condition and affects all nationalities and ethnicities, males and females alike. TS is psychologically, emotionally, socially and physically damaging. Often misdiagnosed, it has no known cure and few specialists are qualified to treat it. In short, people with TS need a wide range of support for this challenging, life-long condition.