It is what makes us family

This whole month has been a crisis. Just when you think it is over, you think you have it all figured out, you don’t; or at least I don’t. I have gone about three years without taking medication. But all of a sudden it is all back and worse than ever. I cannot even walk into a library without feeling uncomfortable.

I was yelling metal and coffee, like seriously. I understand it is a part of me and everything, but no matter how much i try to cope with it, it just will keep digging and digging and won’t stop until I feel super uncomfortable. I just don’t know what to do anymore, I don’t want to go back to medication, I can’t ignore it, it is so obnoxious.

And I know a blog could be inspirational, but I just am being honest. This is really getting old and I hope everyone out there is doing great, all I know is that going to school and realizing you have something that other people weren’t born with makes you feel so uncomfortable, and don’t know if they will accept it.

I just am stoked for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders’ (NJCTS) 5th annual NJ Walks for TS at Mendham on November 15! This one will be so fun, and that’s honestly what I am looking forward to. So if anyone can make it out this year, I hope to see you there.

But just so all you know, having Tourette brings all of my fellow ticcers together. We’re a a family and we don’t let anyone get us down. Keep your head up, This has been the 10th year for me living with Tourette and I plan have it as a gift instead of a curse.

If you can dream it, you can do it!

Hi everyone! Here is an article on an interview I did earlier this month. Hope you enjoy it and get the message! 🙂

Once you meet Laura, you will always remember her. She is an amazing teacher not only because she loves her work but also for the path she travelled to become one with Tourette’s Syndrome (TS). She refuses to be limited by her disability and believes it has been the driving force behind her desire to achieve things.

For Laura there was only one career objective – to help children with their disabilities. Studying psychology was her original plan, but the academic schedule was not compatible with her TS, so she had to give up this choice. Her determination made her continue and in April 2014 graduated as an elementary school teacher. She says: “I have my goal and might have to go around to reach it…but I will get there!”.

Do her students treat her differently? Actually no. Her students do not seem to care or notice her symptoms. She explains that because of her TSLaura  can relate to pupils with learning disabilities and also identify herself with them “I have something too, it’s called Tourette’s” she tells them. As a teacher she is very creative and gives her pupils this motto “If you can dream it, you can do it”. Laura passionately believes that teachers should focus on student’s abilities and not their disabilities, give encouragement, look at the positive side of things and inspire pupils to be positive.

Laura’s commitment to helping children extends beyond her own country – Laura is now a teacher supporting education in Lira, Uganda. Through Edukans, an organisation that helps disadvantaged children in developing countries attend school, Laura is helping Ugandan teachers to improve their lesson plans, create class materials and support pupils.


Youth Ambassador applications are now available for 2015!

TSA seeks at least one teen and parent/guardian team from each TSA chapter (or at least one team per state not served by a TSA chapter) to attend the upcoming YA Training. The Training for teens and their parent/adult guardian will take place March 10-12, 2015 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA.

The TSA Youth Ambassador Training is a two-day comprehensive training program aimed at creating exceptional teen leaders and TS advocates. Youth Ambassadors will receive guidance on speaking in public, on how to give a concise presentation on TS and presentation logistics. The Training also includes participation in TSA’s annual National Advocacy Day.

This is an excellent opportunity for interested teens to learn public speaking, build friendships with other teens involved in the program, gain leadership and advocacy skills, and represent the Tourette Syndrome community as they raise awareness through YA Program activities. Click here to download the application.

Your completed application should be submitted to your local Chapter. Applicants residing outside a chapter area can email or mail completed applications to TSA c/o Michelle Gutmann. All applications must be submitted no later than Friday, November 21, 2014.

New Jersey sub shop to host Tourette Syndrome fundraiser on November 5!

Youth Advocate Tommy Licato has done a lot of awareness work on behalf of the Tourette Syndrome community for years now — and he’s still in high school. Tommy’s incredible efforts on behalf of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) once again have yielded an opportunity for people to show their support for TS.

This time, Tommy has teamed up with Mr. Subs of South Plainfield to host a benefit fundraiser on Wednesday, November 5. From 4-8 p.m. that day, 15 percent of all proceeds at Mr. Subs will go toward the 5th annual NJ Walks for TS at Mendham, which supports the NJCTS School In-Service Program.

The School In-Service program educates students and teachers at schools in every corner of New Jersey about Tourette Syndrome, anti-bullying and self-advocacy. Tommy has been attending the walk for years and hopes that you will, too! But if you can’t, this fundraiser is a great way to take part. Or you can donate to the cause.

Mr. Subs is at 100 South Plainfield Avenue in South Plainfield. Hope to see you there on November 5!

An awkward public encounter

This week is a strange one. I’ve never had a stranger out in public comment about my Tourette’s in my life and then suddenly it happens twice in one week. Craziness. I was getting food and did a facial tic and the server asked me “What was that?” I hadn’t even realized I did a facial tic so I said, “Sorry, what?”

He then said, “That thing you did with your face.” So I told him I had a medical condition. He responded with “Oh, I thought you were upset with me”. I assured him that I wasn’t upset with him and I had tics which were involuntary. I guess he felt kind of awkward and didn’t know what to say next so he said, “Do you cuss people out? Like in me, you, and Irene?” I told him no.

I later looked up the movie and found out it’s not even about Tourette’s. It’s about multiple personality disorder … lol, I just laughed. Definitely an interesting encounter.

Teens and specialists deliver critical Tourette Syndrome training in New Jersey

Physicians spend a lot of time in training, but when it comes to understanding the challenges of Tourette Syndrome, there’s a “gap”, according to Tolga Taneli, M.D. The psychiatrist specializes in the neurological disorder characterized by involuntary sounds or movements known as tics and he partners with the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS) to educate healthcare professionals.

“Tourette Syndrome is diagnosed too late- from its first symptoms to diagnosis sometimes takes a decade or more,” said Dr. Taneli, “There is a training gap in physicians to make them able to recognize early symptoms.”

He emphases a “critical” need to train first-line physicians like family practitioners, pediatricians and internists- doctors who are more likely to encounter a patient before they seek the help of a specialist.

Because of its complex physical and cognitive manifestations, understanding Tourette Syndrome (TS) goes well beyond tics. Since 2011, NJCTS has delivered Patient-Centered Medical Education presentations to hospitals throughout New Jersey and beyond. The program consists of a specialist with TS expertise and teen advocates, living with TS, who are able to convey the emotional toll and communication challenges in a way that transcends clinical terms.

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NJCTS Youth Advocate Tommy Licato honored by Magic 98.3 FM

The New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS) is proud to congratulate Tommy Licato, recognized by WMGQ 98.3 as a “Kid who Makes Magic.”

The radio station honors local youth who are making a difference in their community. Licato, of South Plainfield, has demonstrated a sincere desire to use his experiences living with Tourette Syndrome (TS) to help others. As an New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome Youth Advocate, Tommy has been trained to lead peer in-services, present medical training alongside experts in the treatment of TS and mentor younger kids facing a new diagnosis.

In addition, Licato has spent countless hours fundraising and performing acts of advocacy to bring awareness and support to TS, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary sounds or movements known as tics.

“I choose to educate people about TS because I don’t want people going through the bad experiences I did,” said Licato, who suffered bullying from classmates who didn’t understand his disorder, “Educating my peers changed my life for the better and I want to give another person with TS that same feeling.”

“Tommy has been a great part of what we do,” said NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice, “We’re very proud of him and the good work he is doing on behalf of the 1 in 100 children in NJ living with this disorder.”

Licato was nominated by Nancy Toeltl, a lifelong family friend. He and the other children and teens selected as Magic 98.3’s “Kids who Make Magic” will receive a special gift and enjoy a night of fun at iPlay America in Freehold.