Student Raising Awareness For Tourette Syndrome

BAY COUNTY-- A Bay Haven Charter Academy student is raising awareness for an often misunderstood medical condition.

Lauren Tally was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome when she was 9 years old. She said she's been bullied ever since.

Lauren is trying to break the "Tourette Syndrome Stereotype" by informing others about what it really means.

Thirteen year old Lauren helped her mother's Margaret K. Lewis School students paint teal colored flowers Tuesday.

"We've been working on making flowers out of recycled water bottles and what we're doing is making something beautiful out of something that would've been considered trash," Leanne Tally, Lauren's mother, said.

One hour later, Lauren was giving a flower to each Bay County School Board member during their regular board meeting.

Afterward, Superintendent Bill Husfelt read a proclamation, declaring this Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month.

It's observed nationally from May 15 to June 15.

"There are many people in the world who aren't very typical. I mean, we all have something," Lauren said.

Lauren has a severe case of Tourette's, which affects the central nervous system and causes involuntary ticks. Lauren displayed the symptoms for a year and a half before doctors diagnosed her.

Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 2 and 12.

"If I could stop it, I would, but I can't. It's like in class, either do your work or try to hold back your ticks."

Since her diagnosis, Lauren's seen her fair share of bullies, and it's not just from her peers.

"One time this doctor said that - well, I have a really high squealing - there it is. One time I was ticking and he said, 'Oh you sound like a mouse being killed'. One of the doctors. And we never came back to him."

Tourette syndrome is often misunderstood. Lauren is making it her mission to help people understand.

"You can ask me anything. Anything!"

For the past two years, she's been visiting businesses, showing a five slide presentation on what it means to live with TS.

"We started with the businesses that were the rudest to her first and we started educating those people first."

She wrapped up the presentation with a teal flower, the color of Tourette syndrome awareness.

Tuesday, Lauren received the school board's support.

"Mr. Husfelt came up with the idea. He said, 'Let's make a proclamation'."

"Lauren is a sweetheart, and she is a perfect example of a beautiful, gifted, talented kid with Tourette's. She can't help it but she's sweet, she's got a wonderful heart, she's passionate about learning, and so I'd take that any day," Husfelt said.

"Don't always think, 'Oh that's weird, cause maybe in a year or two, you might have it."

The Centers for Disease Control said there is no exact count of how many people have Tourette syndrome.

Symptoms often decrease after the teen years.