Resident physicians at JFK Family Medicine receive Tourette Syndrome insight from South Plainfield teen

Tommy Licato describes his experience with TS and addresses questions
on doctors, diagnosis, medication, co-morbid disorders and quality of life


EDISON – The New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) on August 30 made the JFK Family Medicine Residency Program at JFK Medical Center a stop on its yearlong, statewide tour for its Patient-Centered Medical Education (PCME) program. South Plainfield teenager Tommy Licato, 14, joined NJCTS Education Outreach Coordinator Melissa Fowler and NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice for the training, at which Licato described his experience with Tourette Syndrome at school, at home and in his community.

Attending doctors, physicians and residents learned the basics about TS, an often misdiagnosed, misunderstood, inherited neurological disorder that affects 1 in 100 children. They also absorbed information that they never before had heard about TS, considering that – by their own admission – the majority of their educational experience with Tourette came in the form of brief exposure in medical school.

Licato’s presentation focused on the experience of initial diagnosis, on quality of life and on encounters with physicians and the health-care system. The goal of the PCME program is to help resident physicians enhance their understanding of the perspectives, stresses and needs of patients with neurological disorders such as TS – and  their families – to improve interpersonal and communication skill in patient encounters.

The residents were interested in how often Licato visits his primary care physician since being diagnosed with TS, as well as how many medicines he had tried before finding one that worked for him. Also addressed was how to tell the difference between symptoms resulting directly from TS as opposed to those from co-morbid disorders such as OCD and anxiety.

“I think the residents really enjoyed hearing directly from Tommy about his experience,” said Dr. Anne Picciano, the Associate Director of the JFK Family Medicine Residency Program. “It’s always very helpful to put a human (and especially such a young human) face on disorders the residents normally just read about. Tommy is a terrific ambassador! It’s also good to know we have such a great resource in the NJCTS so close to home.”

NJCTS works with hospitals throughout New Jersey and the greater New York and Philadelphia areas to present these trainings. Over the past 18 months, the Center has facilitated trainings at Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. The next PCME trainings will take place on October 24 at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark and on November 7 at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. More information about the PCME program is available by calling 908-575-7350 or by visiting www.njcts.org.


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New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders, Inc.
Collaborative partnerships for the TS community.