On April 3, hearings will begin to determine the budget for New Jersey’s 2007 fiscal year. Although legislators have agreed that mental health issues are important to support with continued funding, one very active and important group has been marked for elimination from the budget. Since 1994, the Tourette Syndrome Association of New Jersey, Inc. (TSANJ) which has supported the needs of thousands New Jerseyans, will be 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 on.
Find your representative by visiting: www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/Roster.asp
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“We are devastated by the news that support from the state may stop, and heartbroken that we will not be able to give help to those suffering with TS,” says Faith Rice, Director of TSANJ. “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.”
Through TSANJ initiatives, New Jersey leads the nation in teaching educators how to work with children diagnosed with TS, ADD, OCD and associated disorders. Since 1994, TSANJ has trained over 50,000 school personnel and thousands of medical professionals throughout New Jersey. These professionals, in turn, provide invaluable support to children, adults and families living with this devastating neurological disorder. Without continued funding from the state, families will be forced to fend for themselves once again—dealing with a life-long psychologically, emotionally, socially and physically debilitating condition, with no known cure and still too few trained specialists.
“Since mental health is a priority for this new administration, they would be remiss not to continue to include and embrace the successful work of TSANJ and the thousands of people the organization helps,” adds Rice. “TS sufferers and their families literally will have no other place in New Jersey to turn for assistance.”
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.
One such goal was to encourage cooperation between New Jersey state institutions. TSANJ served as the catalyst for successfully bringing together the talents of Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and the UMDNJ teaching hospitals to create, in 2005, the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS). The NJCTS program—the only one of its kind in the nation—provides 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.
NJCTS is a shining example of TSANJ’s work to bring together state resources and is a working model for TS care in the nation. Because of TSANJ’s efforts, people with TS in New Jersey have access to the most comprehensive support services in the country.
As a result of another TSANJ initiative, New Jersey will lead the nation in research through a “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.
“To show support for children and adults with TS, people need to contact their elected representatives and ask them to continue to support funding for these vital programs,” pleads Rice.
To find your representative’s telephone number, address or email, visiting: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/Roster.asp
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.