One High School Student Educates Many About TS on Behalf of New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome

East Brunswick High School senior Amanda Silvers talks to nearly 140 students and teachers at Spotswood High School about TS, a misunderstood, misdiagnosed, inherited neurological disorder that affects 1 in 100 children and adults.

Spotswood, NJ, April 06, 2013 --( When Amanda Silvers first contacted Spotswood Public Schools to gauge their interest in having the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders’ (NJCTS) in-service presentation on TS come to their district, Director of Special Services/Programs Daniel Silvia was thrilled and offered to have Silvers come talk to three psychology classes at Spotswood High School.

Imagine how thrilled Silvers was when, following her third presentation on March 28, a thoroughly impressed 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 2 years, spent the majority of her time answering the questions of students on the heels of a query of her own:

“How many of you have ever heard of Tourette Syndrome or know anyone with it?”

Just 3 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 are often diagnosed, who is affected by TS, etc. – she fielded an array of questions. Following are some of those queries, in question-and-answer format:

Student Question: “When did you and your family start noticing that you had symptoms?”
Silvers Answer: “In preschool and kindergarten, teachers noticed and recommended that I get checked out because of I was hopping, blinking and not paying attention. But I wasn’t officially diagnosed until age 5.”

Question: “Are there any medications for TS?”
Answer: “There are none specifically, but there are anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic and blood pressure meds. Which you can take depends on your body chemistry, and everyone and everything is different. I take blood pressure meds, which can control the tics, but it doesn’t make them go away completely.”

Question: “Does your Tourette ever go away?”
Answer: “Never, but tics wax and wane. Some days are worse than others, especially when I get stressed out and moody ‘off the walls.’ You can grow out of tics and get new ones. I hopped when I was little. Now, I bang my head on the wall or pick my skin or pull my hair sometimes.”

Question: “Do you have a lot of friends who support you no matter what?”
Answer: “I have a very strong group of friends who are very supportive. If someone is not going to be supportive, they are not being supportive of me and shouldn’t be my friend. If people don’t like my tics, then they shouldn’t bother being near me. My friends see me and not my disorder.”

Question: “How have your teachers been about it?”
Answer: “Most have been very understanding, but I’ve had a few that have been not so good. One teacher last year kicked me out of the classroom, and she was supposed to be one of the most understanding teachers because she was a special needs teacher. She said that students were being disturbed by me and kicked me out into the hallway. My family and I, to this day, have not received an apology from the teacher.”

More information about Silvers' presentation and the student-led in-service program is available by calling 908-575-7350 or by visiting
New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome
Jeff Weber