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15-year-old Bloomington girl living with Tourette's uses her disability to teach others

Allie Bowman has advocated at the state level for the Tourette Association of America.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind — At 15, Allie Bowman is already a champion.

"I'm really just trying to educate others to make the stigma go away," said Allie. 

The stigma is that of Tourette syndrome, a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds, or tics, that cannot be easily controlled.

Allie has suffered from Tourette syndrome for the last seven years.

"It has been a struggle. I have to live with constant movement every day and it's really hard," said Allie.

But she found a way to cope through drawing.

"It's almost an escape for me for things like my tics. It's a whole new world that I can dive into where I don't have to think about my tics," she said. 

Allie's Tourette's was also painful.

"She's doing the same movement over and over and over again. So, a lot of the tics are around their head and neck," said Allie's mother, Jill.

Jill is a nurse and said she first noticed something wasn't right when Allie was eight years old.

"She would shake her head over and over again," Jill said. "Being a nurse, but also knowing the family history and she has a cousin with Tourette's as well, so we knew what to look for."

Doctors referred them to Riley Hospital for Children for care.

There, a team of neurologists and psychologists taught her how to control her tics.

"They have helped me so much, they have been with me through thick and thin," said Allie.

"Allie's life is totally different because of Riley. I don't think she would have had any kind of normalcy," said Jill.

Allie has since become a voice for others.

"I know I'm speaking for other kids, not just for myself, and I know I'm getting rid of that stigma that surrounds Tourette syndrome and other disabilities," said Allie.

Allie has advocated at the state level for the Tourette Association of America.

In 2019, she went to Washington, D.C., for training as a youth ambassador to spread awareness and understanding of the disorder.