Joshua Center StoryJoshua Center for Neurological Disorders changing lives since 1996
I believe everyone has a moment in life that changes their journey. That moment when everything is clear for the very first time: when that swirling, chaotic world around you comes to a screeching halt and you feel your heart skip. It’s that moment, that split second in time when you know your purpose in life. Mine happened in January, 1987. My world has never been the same.
Called in to meet with my son’s middle school principal, I sat waiting in his small, stuffy office. Degrees and awards hung from the wall, proudly displaying his expertise in children’s education. I looked up and smiled as he entered the office. He would not make eye contact. I knew things were not going to go well.
He thanked me for coming in before launching into a litany of deficits in my son. Josh was inattentive, difficult, would not sit still, never turned his papers in, talked constantly and “refused” to stop making noises and gestures during class.
As I tried to explain, once again, that my son had Tourette Syndrome and could not help his tics, he interrupted me and said, “You know, some children just don’t make it.”
My heart sank. I saw a world full of negativity for my son. A world where he was not treated as an equal. A world where adults, like the very principal in front of me, did what they could to prevent my son from succeeding.
That was my moment. I knew from that day on, I would spend my life working to ensure that all children with Tourette Syndrome or any other neurological disorder, would get an education and fair treatment. These children needed someone to rally for them: someone who cared. Someone who understood them.
I walked out of that school a new woman. I had a mission now.
Over the next few years, I served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Tourette Syndrome Association Chapter for ten years and the National Tourette Syndrome Association’s Board of Directors for two years, started a resident summer camp and helped with the local support group. I knew I could not rely just on my son, Josh’s, experiences if I was truly going to help others, so I would also go into schools and observe children with Tourette Syndrome in the classroom setting. I would then work with parents and teachers, giving them strategies that would help children become successful.
In my mind, I knew more needed to be done. I envisioned a clinic where the doctor, counselor and teacher were all in one place to help these children. I learned from other parents just how frustrated they were with the school system. So many times children with neurological disorders were misunderstood in the schools, yet it seemed a lot of school districts were hesitant to learn more about these disorders, content to label them as “behavior problems”. I knew this was not the case and felt a tremendous responsibility to correct this perception by providing education for schools.
I knew it was time to retire from teaching and dove full time into turning my dream into reality. With the help of Jack Southwick, MSW, and Orrilla Clough, the Joshua Center opened on November 5, 1996. Over the years we have broadened our services to cover not only Tourette Syndrome, but also Asperger Syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Pervasive-Development Disorder, and other associated neurological disorders.
The Joshua Center has two licensed therapists who provide individual and family therapy. They also go into the schools to observe and train, as well as help parents and educational staff develop a plan to ensure a child can succeed. The therapists also speak at school conferences and staff training days. We also have an Occupational Therapist that can do assessments and provide treatment for sensory integration and motor coordination.
A year before the Joshua Center opened, I started a summer camp for children with neurological disorders at the Rotary Camp in Lee’s Summit, MO. The need for our camp has grown so much, we now hold two summer camps with sixty kids in each, both which are accredited with the American Camp Association. Camp is an incredible experience for these kids. It’s a place where no one judges them, they make friends, and sometimes it’s the first time they feel they can be themselves. Thousands of children have attended our camp over the years.
Several years ago, it became apparent that in order to succeed, these children needed guidance in social situations. Social cues are often missed by them, which then inhibits their chances of becoming a contributing, productive member of their community. We started with one social skills class, held at the Joshua Center, and this program has evolved into more than twenty classes per week, some at satellite locations.
Each day, the Joshua Center receives referrals from local hospitals, physicians, and schools. Desperate parents call us, looking for some sort of guidance for their children; a course of action to follow in order to successfully raise their neurologically impaired children. We are here for them. Through the years we worked with several thousand children and their families.
We are making a difference.
As a non-profit organization, the Joshua Center’s funding comes through individual and corporate donations, fundraising activities, grants and program fees. We are thankful for every donation received. Your generosity allows us to continue our mission to change children’s lives.
Our Mission Statement
The Joshua Center is a non-profit organization that provides services and support for the social, emotional, and educational needs of neurologically impaired children and their families, including children with Tourette Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD.