East Brunswick High School senior gives lesson in Tourette awareness
My Central Jersey.com
April 16, 2013

Amanda.jpg
East Brunswick High School senior Amanda Silvers had each class she visited in the Spotswood School District perform an activity in which students were given tics that prevented them from writing out the full Pledge of Allegiance as part of her efforts for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders. / Photo courtesy of NJCTS


SPOTSWOOD, New Jersey — When Amanda Silvers first contacted Spotswood Public Schools to gauge its interest in having the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders’ (NJCTS) in-service presentation on TS visit the district, Director of Special Services/Programs Daniel Silvia offered to have Silvers talk to three psychology classes at Spotswood High School.

Following her third presentation March 28, Silvia sought out three more classes to which Silvers could present that day. All told, Silvers spread awareness about Tourette — a misunderstood, misdiagnosed, inherited neurological disorder that affects 1 in 100 children and adults — to six classes and 138 people total.

Silvers, an East Brunswick High School senior and an NJCTS Youth Advocate who has been giving presentations on behalf of the organization for more than two years, spent the majority of her time answering student questions on the heels of one of her own: “How many of you have ever heard of Tourette syndrome or know anyone with it?”

Just three out of 75 students and teachers in the first three audiences — advanced placement and regular psychology classes taught by Colleen Meyers — answered “yes.” After Silvers gave them a primer about Tourette — the definition of vocal and motor tics, when children often are diagnosed, who is affected by TS, etc. — she fielded an array of questions.

Meyers was impressed with Silvers’ presentations and hopes to see Silvers come back to the Spotswood School District to discuss Tourette syndrome with younger students, especially those around the same age group as when most children with TS are diagnosed — 6 to 9 years old.

Silvers is just one of many teenagers around New Jersey giving these in-service presentations on behalf of NJCTS. The presentations are designed to foster understanding, sensitivity and tolerance of Tourette syndrome and its symptoms by describing the symptoms, causes and effects of the disorder. They also work to displace the myths and stereotypes that often are attributed to TS and contain a strong anti-bullying message.

Student presenters may or may not have TS or an associated disorder, such as OCD, ADHD, anxiety or depression themselves, though all have first-hand experience with one or most of them. Student-led in-service presentations are appropriate for all age groups and can be used in the school setting, for sports leagues, scout troops, camps or after-school programs.

More information about this program is available by calling 908-575-7350 or visiting New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS).