Rutgers University’s President Richard L. McCormack and Vice President for Academic Affairs Phillip Furmanski have announced the highly prestigious 2005-2006 Academic Excellence award of $125,000 to the University’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP). This recognition comes as a result of the groundbreaking five-year relationship between GSAPP’s Tourette Syndrome Program and the Tourette Syndrome Association of New Jersey (TSANJ) and the university’s desire to support this ongoing work.
The unique partnership is the first and only university level program of its kind in the nation–providing much needed services for New Jersey families dealing with Tourette Syndrome and offering world-class training to professionals. Rutgers Academic Excellence Award recognizes the significance of the Clinic’s outstanding work, its vital impact on the Tourette Syndrome community, and the need for the continuation of the program. In the past, the program had been funded by TSANJ.
“This award is essential to our mutual mission of expanding awareness and offering hope and options,” says Faith Rice, director of TSANJ. “The Rutgers Tourette Syndrome Program helps families obtain the assistance they need while training doctoral students and professionals to better diagnose and treat people with Tourette Syndrome.”
Dr. Lew Gantwerk, primary recipient of the Academic Excellence Award and Executive Director of the Center for Applied Psychology that houses the program, expressed his gratitude for the recognition of this work by the University. “This award allows us to increase the services available, train more doctoral level psychologists in the diagnosis and treatment of TS and add a significant research component to the project,” said Gantwerk.
Families and individuals throughout New Jersey who deal with Tourette Syndrome and any of its related challenges are invited to use the Rutgers program’s services. The evaluation is free, and a sliding fee scale assures no one will be turned away for help with Tourette Syndrome and its related conditions including obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, depression and phobias.
As many as 1 in 200 people exhibit symptoms of Tourette Syndrome-equating to 40,000 people in New Jersey alone. Tourette Syndrome is an inherited neurological disorder often characterized by uncontrollable movements and vocalizations called tics.
Tourette Syndrome often presents itself with other disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, learning disabilities, and mood and sleep disorders.
According to Dr. Cathy Budman, Senior Consultant to TSANJ and a nationally recognized Tourette Syndrome expert, “Unfortunately, the average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis is seven years. For a child, these years are often filled with academic and social struggles along with countless medical tests, ineffectual medication and frustrated parents.”
Earlier this year TSANJ, with the help of grant money from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, created a national model program offering medical diagnosis, treatment, research and other services called the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJTCS). The Rutgers Tourette Syndrome Program will become part of that expanded effort. The NJCTS provides the New Jersey Tourette Syndrome community with:
- coordination of care and service for persons with Tourette Syndrome,
- development and delivery of training programs for medical and mental health referrals to practitioners throughout the state,
- a centralized point for comprehensive research in Tourette Syndrome,
- professionals to qualify them to diagnose and treat Tourette Syndrome, and
- a central repository for best practices regarding diagnosis and treatment of Tourette Syndrome.
Adds Rice, “Our partnership with Rutgers is a true model for helping Tourette Syndrome patients and ideally should be replicated nationwide.”
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. For more information call Rutgers Tourette Syndrome Program at 732-445-6111 x27 or x930. For information about NJCTS, call 908 575 7350.