09-12-2009, 07:31 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Actor helps boy spread the awareness of Tourette Syndrome and Bullying!
Actor With Tourette's Visits Lakeland Third-Grader | theledger.com | The Ledger | Lakeland, FL
By Gary White
Published: Friday, September 11, 2009 at 11:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 11, 2009 at 11:50 p.m.
LAKELAND | Jaylen Arnold was the most popular kid in the cafeteria Friday at Victory Christian Academy.
"They were all trying to sit by me," Jaylen, 9, said of his fellow students. "I had to arrange the table. They all said, 'Can I sit by you? Can I sit by the movie star?'"
The requests came because Jaylen had a guest for lunch, a 6-foot-3, square-jawed actor named Dash Mihok. The actor, familiar from such movies as "Romeo + Juliet" and "I Am Legend," had come to visit Jaylen and support his crusade against bullying.
Mihok, like Jaylen, has Tourette syndrome, a mysterious neurological disorder that causes involuntary and repetitive movements or speech or both. Mihok, 35, arrived Thursday night to spend a few days with the Arnold family.
Mihok (pronounced MEE-hawk) plans to record a public-service announcement with Jaylen on Sunday, and the two are scheduled to speak to students at Bartow Elementary Academy on Tuesday. Jaylen's parents hope to get the public-service announcement on to major networks, including the Disney Channel.
Mihok learned about Jaylen through a Bay News 9 segment posted on CNN.com in June, following a feature in The Ledger. The segment included a video snippet of Jaylen from March, when he was in the midst of a violent flare up, complete with uncontrolled arm thrusts that left him exhausted.
From that clip, Mihok found the Web site (www.jaylenschallenge.org) Jaylen created to combat bullying, of which he has sometimes been a target.
"I saw Jay and I was so excited and proud," Mihok said. "I thought this was such a brave individual, and he really reminded me of myself when I was younger, but I certainly wasn't that brave. I was more into hiding it. So he really inspired me."
Mihok contacted Jaylen through the Web site, and after several phone calls, Jaylen's parents, Howard and Robin Arnold, invited Mihok to visit Lakeland.
"It's fun to have him here," Jaylen said. "I like that he came over here because he's fun."
The reddish-brown-haired actor, fresh from the set of the small-budget film "Lifted" in Alabama, wore one of Jaylen's blue-and-yellow wristbands inscribed "Bullying No Way" Friday afternoon as he sat on the Arnolds' couch. Jaylen flipped through a school yearbook, showing Mihok a girl he has a crush on.
"These two are peas in a pod," said Robin Arnold. "Dash is Jaylen all grown up, down to the same tics. ... They do probably nine of the same tics."
Tics are the manifestations of Tourette's. As he sat with Jaylen, Mihok engaged in a series of involuntary movements, swiping at the right side of his face with a clawed hand, swiveling his head to the right and making sniffing sounds. The New York native was diagnosed at age 6, yet he has managed to work steadily as an actor for 15 years.
Mihok said as a child he compensated for his Tourette's by becoming overly extroverted. He said vanishing into a movie role allows him to control his tics long enough to complete a scene.
Jaylen was diagnosed with Tourette's at age 3. These days, his dominant tics are rapid blinks, mouth motions and head rolls, though when he's excited his whole body can be involved.
Jaylen also has severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Mihok said he, too, developed many OCD rituals as a child.
The public-service announcement to be recorded near Lake Morton won't be Jaylen's first time in front of the camera. He has recorded some unscripted video segments for his blog, in which he uses the persona of a TV pitchman to rail against bullying.
"He is just a ham in front of the camera," Robin Arnold said.
"You're a ham," Mihok repeated to Jaylen.
"Don't eat me," Jaylen replied.
A crew from CBS News also is scheduled to be in Lakeland on Monday and Tuesday to meet Jaylen.
Jaylen said he has always wanted to be an actor, apparently forgetting his long-held plan to become a dentist.
"My whole family says, 'You should be in movies; you should be an actor,'" the third-grader said.
Mihok, also a hip-hop musician, said he recently recorded a song about Jaylen's anti-bullying campaign.
"It's good," Jaylen said of the song, adding, "Deep voice."
Jaylen plans to audition for a school musical soon, and Mihok offered his tutoring services.
He also suggested writing a play to spread Jaylen's message, "Bullying No Way."
Though Jaylen's parents mainly restrict his viewing to the Disney Channel and G-rated movies, they did rent "I Am Legend" and allow Jaylen to watch the parts in which Mihok appears as Alpha Male, the leader of a band of aggressive mutants in a post-apocalypse New York.
The family planned to watch "Firehouse Dog," another of Mihok's movies, Friday night. The Arnolds and Mihok were set to visit Universal Studios today.
Mihok, who is married with no children, said he hopes his presence reassures Jaylen that it's possible to be successful despite the challenges of living with Tourette syndrome.
"(I wanted) to let Jaylen know there's someone just like him who's an adult and doing his thing, and you can be anything you want to be," Mihok said.
"I have no doubt this young man is going to accomplish anything he wants to. He's smart as a whip and a beautiful soul."
This is great! I can relate to this story, due to my Twin brother has Tourette Syndrome. He grew up with the bullying from other children.
It is awesome that this little boy has someone to help him spread the awareness of TS and Bullying. Great JOB Jaylen!!
Here is a good link on Tourettes.
Tourette Syndrome Association TSA Home Page