Bullied Tourette’s sufferer, 12, becomes motivational speaker

Bullied Tourette's sufferer, 12, becomes motivational speaker

Jaylen Arnold is just 12 years old but he’s already suffered years of abuse at the hands of school bullies.

Jaylen, from Lakeland in Florida, has Tourette’s Syndrome, a neurological condition that causes him to have uncontrollable movements and outbursts, which his tormenters mock and mimic.

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But instead of letting the bullies get him down, Jaylen has become an anti-bullying crusader, travelling to schools across the US to give motivational speeches and running his own foundation, Jaylen’s Challenge, which raises money to help bullied kids.

He even has his own website, which he started when he was eight years old, which he uses to promote awareness of his condition and sell his glow-in-the-dark “Bullying No Way!” wristbands, which have been seen on the arms of celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio.

This week, Jaylen was rewarded for all of his hard work when he was surprised by his sporting hero, hockey star Dave Andreychuk.

Andreychuk presented Jaylen with his own hockey jersey and a $50,000 cheque made out to Jaylen’s Challenge.

“He’s got a lot of courage to stand in front of his peers and talk about those things,” Andreychuk told “For us, it’s a no-brainer. He’s a kid who is well deserving of our community hero.”

Jaylen was thrilled with the surprise, and vowed to use the money to continue to help kids who are suffering at the hands of school bullies across the US.

“That was so shocking,” he said. “That was so amazing! That was so cool. He gave me the jersey and the check. This is going to help Jaylen’s Challenge a lot.”

Jaylen first experienced bullying when he changed schools, moving from a private school to a public school because he wanted to have a “normal” education.

“One day, I decided I was a big boy and I wanted to go to regular school,” he writes on his website. “My disorders became worse with the stress and mocking that began to take place.

“I witnessed a lot of fighting and bullying. I don’t like fighting or bullying. I was really scared for the other kids to see my ‘tics’ and think that I was different.

“I tried so hard to hold them in. I would go to the hall and try to get them out. Eventually, I couldn’t hold them in. It’s like a big sneeze…you can hold it only for a few seconds, but then it just blows out really hard. I was soon ‘ticcing’ all day long. The other kids were copying my tics.”

Jaylen’s tics became so violent under the stress of bullying they began hurting him. He was soon covered in bruises. Eventually, he ended up in hospital.

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It took weeks for his tics to calm down and when they did, Jaylen gladly returned to his old school.

“I love my school,” he wrote. “The kids do not bully or tease me. They love me for who I am and I want all kids to experience the same feeling. I am going to do my best to make that happen!”

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