Education

South Plainfield's Licato takes Tourette Syndrome quest to Connecticut

200b72ec1949c2fc8064_IMG_7635.jpg
South Plainfield High School freshman Tommy Licato addresses 120 doctors at Yale University on October 8 during a Patient-Centered Medical Education presentation by the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders. Credits: NJCTS
367a76605d4cfd63c379_IMG_7636.jpg
From left, South Plainfield High School freshman Tommy Licato joins fellow teens Grace Hawruk and Tess Kowalski in addressing 120 doctors at Yale University on October 8 during a Patient-Centered Medical Education presentation by the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders. Credits: NJCTS
9045b6c20eaa445b6683_IMG_7607.JPG
From left, South Plainfield High School freshman Tommy Licato joins fellow teens Grace Hawruk and Tess Kowalski in addressing 120 doctors at Yale University on October 8 during a Patient-Centered Medical Education presentation by the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders. Credits: NJCTS
200b72ec1949c2fc8064_IMG_7635.jpg

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Between them, teenagers Grace Hawruk, Tommy Licato and Tess Kowalski have delivered more than a dozen presentations on behalf of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS). They’ve spoken to students, teachers, doctors and residents about what it’s like to live with TS – an inherited, misdiagnosed, misunderstood neurological disorder that affects 1 in 100 kids.

But prior to October 8, each of their presentations had taken place at hospitals across New Jersey. On this particular Tuesday, however, the trio was invited to speak at one of America’s leading institutions of higher learning – Yale University. Their talk about Patient-Centered Medical Education at the Yale Child Study Center not only was well-received by the nearly 120 faculty and trainees of the Yale School of Medicine, it was lauded and encouraged to be replicated – nationwide.

“In an academic clinical research center – one that is the birthplace of much of the important work into the causes and treatment of TS over the past 40 years – it was very important for clinicians and researchers to hear from the teenagers themselves,” said Dr. Robert King, a Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center and a key partner of NJCTS. “There is a lot of excitement here about the thought of the NJCTS Patient-Centered Medical Education program being used as a model with children and families affected by other clinical disorders.”

Patient-Centered Medical Education is a unique education program that provides doctors and physicians in training an opportunity to hear directly from adolescents/young adults with Tourette Syndrome and their families. It fosters an understanding of the perspectives, stresses and needs of families living with TS and associated disorders such as OCD, ADHD and anxiety.

Tommy Licato, 14, has done six Patient-Centered Medical Education trainings at locations throughout Central Jersey, and his experience and resulting confidence was clearly on display as he highlighted how answering doctors’ questions make him feel like what he’s been through – all of his experiences, even the most negative ones – are important and worthy of discussion.

“The most frequent comment I get from doing Patient-Centered Medical Education is that doctors always read about Tourette Syndrome in textbooks, but that hearing from patients in person is a treat and very helpful,” said Licato, a freshman at South Plainfield High School and -- despite his age -- already a noted philanthropist and advocate around town. “And if I can help someone be diagnosed sooner through talking to doctors, somehow, everything I have gone through will become worth it.”

Most of Tess Kowalski’s experience has been derived from speaking at schools near her Plainsboro home and at hospitals throughout Central Jersey. Educating doctors has been an “amazing” experience for her, too.

“TS has really changed my life,” said Kowalski, 14, whose father, Tim, also spoke to the Yale audience about the parent perspective of having an adolescent with Tourette. “Even though my tics are painful and stressful, and people stare at me all the time, I’m now this confident girl who can speak in front of people and tell them I have TS without being shy or cowering in front of them. It’s amazing.”

Grace Hawruk, meanwhile, is intent on showing that TS has not and never will slow her down. At 17, Hawruk has been a part of the Patient-Centered Medical Education program for two years, is captain of her high school tennis team and has become quite good at suppressing her tics. Diagnosed with TS at age 8, Hawruk had a simple yet powerful message for the faculty and trainees:

“Telling my story is rewarding because I get to teach people and know that I’m bringing everyone one step closer to tolerance and understanding,” said Hawruk, who hails from Butler and was introduced to NJCTS after nominating one of her teachers for an Educator of the Year Award in 2011. “I have a lot of memorable moments because of TS. At past grand rounds, I’ve gotten a standing ovation from the doctors. It was shocking to see how my words moved doctors. So I’m grateful to have TS. Without it, I would not be me.”

Dr. Stuart Green, Associate Director of the Family Medicine Training Program at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, and NJCTS Education Outreach Coordinator Melissa Fowler also were part of the presentation, one that Dr. Green believes could finally signal the start of advancing medical education not only in the Tourette Syndrome community, but in the medical community as a whole.

Dr. Green, who develops patient-led medical education programs at Overlook, was the catalyst behind the creation of the NJCTS program and firmly believes that “patients and the community-based organizations which support them have powerful lessons to teach us all. Patient educators and advocates should have an active presence and strong voice in every aspect of medical education and health care.”

Added Fowler, who trains each participant before they speak at a Patient-Centered Medical Education presentation: “There are still too many educational and medical professionals who say that they have no idea what is involved with Tourette Syndrome. So it’s a really exciting thing to be a part of a program that is changing that. The hope is that we can see this model have some implications to be expanded beyond Tourette Syndrome.”

Since its inception in 2010, the Patient-Centered Medical Education program has been presented by NJCTS at more than 15 hospitals in New Jersey.

“It is the goal of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders, through the Patient-Centered Medical Education program, to bring each doctor and resident to a level of understanding about TS so that each of the 1 in 100 kids affected by the neurological disorder can be properly diagnosed, treated and someday cured,” NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice said.

For more information about the Patient-Centered Medical Education program, or to schedule it at your location, please call 908-575-7350 or visit www.njcts.org.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Joe Sacco Wrestling

The South Plainfield Wrestling Team finished their dual meet season with a deceiving 20-7 record.  This past week saw the Tigers defeat Ewing (69-4), Bordentown Regional (49-9), and Ocean Township (54-6) to win the Central Jersey Group III Sectional Championship.  This advanced South Plainfield to the Group III State Championships yet again.  The wrestling team defeated Voorhees ...

The Athlete of the Week: Alyzah Ziga Co-ed Swimming

This past week South Plainfield’s Co-ed Swim Team finished their season.  The team was competitive in most meets, many times competing against bigger schools.  Junior Alyzah Ziga was an integral part of the Tiger’s Swim Team.

On Friday 2/2, Alyzah scored a total of 8 points against Linden with a 1st place in the 200 Individual Medley with a time of 2:29.55 and in 1st ...

Obituaries

South Plainfield - Mary E. Ridilla, 96,  passed away on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at the ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor from Mayor's Wellness Committee

February 19, 2018

Letter to the Editor:

The South Plainfield Mayor's Wellness Committee and South Plainfield High School Student Council Advisor Tony Encinas hosted the 11th annual Blood Drive at the South Plainfield High School on February 6, 2018 from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm in the South Plainfield High School Auditorium.  All students age 16 years old were able to donate life saving blood with signed ...

South Plainfield Residents  Named to Fall 2017 Dean's List at Seton Hall University

February 13, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- Seton Hall University is pleased to announce the following students who qualified for Fall 2017 Dean's list and to congratulate them for their outstanding academic achievements:

Brooke Barry, Lindsay Celentano, Cj Dudek, Kaitlyn Faustini, Christopher McNeil,  Meagan Praul,  

Kyle Russell, Matthew Taco Bravo and Tomasz ...

Community Happenings

Pre-Ticket Sale for Holy Savior Academy’s 4th Annual Spring Splendor Tricky Tray

February 7, 2018

Holy Savior Academy is hosting its Spring Splendor Tricky Tray Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the school.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are limited and will be sold at Holy Savior Academy, 149 South Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield on Friday, February 9, 2016 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (cash or checks)

BYOB and food- Admission $ 25 per person includes:  ...

Volleyball Fundraiser for the Eggert Family on March 11, 2018

February 18, 2018

WHAT:

Two divisions, Co-Ed High School and Co-Ed adult

Guaranteed two games per team

Double Elimination

8 people per team

 

COST:

High School teams = $50 per team

Adult Teams = $100 per team

12 Teams Max for each division

Please mail checks to 1107 Worth Drive, South Plainfield NJ 07080

High school - please submit your teams and payment to Justin ...

Holy Savior Academy hosts appreciation luncheon for Deanery Pastors

February 16, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The students and Board of Limited Jurisdiction of Holy Savior Academy (HSA), South Plainfield hosted a special luncheon to honor and celebrate the Pastors of twelve local Catholic churches that sponsor the school.  

The event was held at HSA on Tuesday February 13 and included a festive lunch featuring a home-cooked meal prepared by members of ...

Holy Savior Academy Cheer Competition

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Holy Savior Academy’s cheerleading squad is on winning streak.  Competing at the Biddy Level in the CCCANJ League, the girls took 1st place in the first two competitions of this cheer season. The 12 girl squad competed in the Immaculate Conception and the St. Mary’s competitions and came out on top beating fellow Catholic Schools, Immaculate ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_4b13d74a66d28696835d_sp_cultural_arts

Tue, February 20, 7:30 PM

South Plainfield

SPCAC Meeting

Carousel_image_2016772e51de2589b65e_lenten_dinners

Fri, February 23, 5:00 PM

South Plainfield

The Sacred Heart Lenten Fish Dinners

Carousel_image_160974dbc9379a0238f6_meet_the_mayor

Sat, February 24, 8:00 AM

South Plainfield

Meet the Mayor at the Senior Center

Carousel_image_01278d9d6764037b0a59_children_s_march_flyer-page-001

Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

The Children’s March being shown at the South ...

Carousel_image_4d7f13f1bac1e8a84adb_races_flyer_4-page-001

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

South Plainfield

Night at the Races - Tricky Tray

Carousel_image_5a8b641c938a30a61d34_img_2324

Sun, February 25, 1:00 PM

South Plainfield

Open House 171 New York Avenue South Plainfield

Real Estate

Columns

Diegnan Bill Allowing Municipalities To Authorize Parking Authorities As Redevelopment Entity Now Law

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick Diegnan to allow municipalities to authorize a parking authority as a redevelopment entity is now law.

“We know that smart redevelopment can help to revitalize areas within a town or city, but we have to make sure that municipalities have the flexibility to undertake projects in the most effective way,” said ...

South Plainfield: A Heart for Giving

South Plainfield received over two inches of rain this past weekend. Fortunately, Mother Nature has cooperated, and the precipitation was not of the frozen variety. Despite the rain, nothing could put a damper on South Plainfield’s spirit of helping those in need.

On Saturday a few Borough employees and I had the opportunity to deliver funds that have been raised for a family that has ...

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper with Danny Pellegrino (St. Martin's Press, 2017)

It's hard to go on a serious diet, one on which you expect to be successful and maintain a loss. Fortunately, in his new book Super Carb Diet, Bob Harper has given the weight watching world a sensible new diet plan to help achieve a healthy weight.

Harper, host of NBC's popular show The Biggest Loser, ...

Bookmarks

Tax forms are here!  The IRS has sent us printed copies of some of the most commonly used forms and instruction books.  We will continue putting them out as long as our supply lasts.  If you need other forms, we have them available for copying or you can print them out from IRS.gov.  Look on our website for more tax-related links.

The library will be closed on Sunday, ...

Knights Of Columbus Substance Abuse Awareness Poster Contest

All young people ages 8 through 14 are invited to participate in the 2018 Knights of Columbus Substance Abuse Awareness Poster Contest sponsored by the South Plainfield Knights of Columbus Council #6203.  Students that attend any schools in South Plainfield are welcomed to participate.  Students are encouraged to develop an original poster and slogan idea designed to discourage their ...

Press Releases

New Brunswick/Middlesex County Reentry Site Opens

February 14, 2018

MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ - The New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC), a nonprofit agency serving court-involved individuals, is pleased to announce the grand opening a new reentry site in Middlesex County on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 at 11 a.m. The office is located at 57 Livingston Avenue, Unit 3, New Brunswick, N.J. 08901. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin will offer remarks and cut ...