A Night Be­fore Christ­mas

Bay News - - FRONT PAGE - By Re­becca Mauger [email protected]

When So­phie Turner is on stage, noth­ing else mat­ters.

All eyes are on her and it’s her time to shine.

So­phie will per­form at A Night Be­fore Christ­mas this week­end and she can’t wait to get out on stage.

From ap­pear­ances, So­phie is just a reg­u­lar 15-year-old. What makes her dif­fer­ent— apart from be­ing in­cred­i­bly mu­si­cally tal­ented with an as­tound­ing voice— is she has Tourette syn­drome, ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der (OCD) and autism spec­trum dis­or­der.

“My tics are noises so when I am out in pub­lic I try to hold them in. Peo­ple tell me to re­lax and let it out, but I don’t.”

So­phie’s mind is go­ing a mil­lion miles an hour. She’s tak­ing in ev­ery­thing around her, all the time. She’s de­vel­oped ways to sup­press ticks such as mov­ing her body a cer­tain way or mum­bling.

If some­thing trig­gers So­phie’s OCD, her Tourettes kicks in and her tics be­gin. The con­di­tions are as­so­ci­ated and com­plex, and each per­son with spec­trum dis­or­der has a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.

“OCD has the big­gest ef­fect on my life,” she says. Some days it can be de­bil­i­tat­ing for the home­schooled teenager. She likens

ticks to hav­ing the urge to cough or sneeze. You can’t ig­nore it.

Singing is a re­lease from the bat­tle that goes on in her head.

“If I fo­cus on some­thing, it goes away. When I am singing, it’s okay be­cause it’s show­time. It gets rid of my Tourettes while I am up there.”

Does So­phie get ner­vous? “A lit­tle but it doesn’t mat­ter, it’s all about fak­ing it. Once I amout there I am a dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity.”

The anx­i­ety will kick in the lead-up to the event, mum Sarah Ju­lou says.

So­phie has a pow­er­ful voice sim­i­lar to the likes of Ala­nis Moris­sette or Christina Aguil­era.

It’s her sec­ond time per­form­ing at the Beth­le­hem Bap­tist Church event A Night Be­fore Christ­mas. She sang All I

Want for Christ­mas last year and this year she’s singing Rip Tide and Rock­ing Around the Christ­mas Tree.

So­phie’s no stranger to the spot­light.

She was a reg­u­lar on TV2 show What Now last year, So­phie Turner, 15, is per­form­ing at A Night Be­fore Christ­mas. star­ring as the lead in reg­u­lar skit Mys­teryville. She played smart but bossy Izzy.

So­phie has par­tic­i­pated in six ma­jor Tau­ranga Mu­si­cal The­atre pro­duc­tions and more re­cently 16th Ave The­atre ( Alice in

Won­der­land com­ing up in Jan­uary) and is with Tanya Horo Agency. Her vo­cal coach is Scott Braid.

She has been been in­ter­viewed by Al­to­gether Autism in a fea­ture which high­lights her plight.

Sarah and So­phie are in­volved in par­ent-run char­ity Mock­ing­bird.

They hope to be­come am­bas­sadors and ed­u­cate peo­ple about OCD.

“There is very lit­tle sup­port out there for peo­ple with OCD,” Sarah says. “Some­one can present on the out­side as com­pletely ‘nor­mal’ but on the in­side, it’s a daily strug­gle.”

When I am singing, it’s okay be­cause it’s show­time. It gets rid of my Tourettes while I amup there.’’

So­phie Turner

Mock­ing­bird

Sarah is the fund­ing of­fi­cer for Mock­ing­bird, a lo­cal char­ity for par­ents with chil­dren with spec­trum dis­or­der, all neuro-di­verse chil­dren.

Dis­or­ders may in­clude autism, ADHD, fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome, Tourette syn­drome or OCD. The idea is to pro­vide an en­vi­ron­ment for chil­dren to “ac­quire so­cial skills and en­able nat­u­ral growth and ma­tu­rity with­out peer pres­sure”. They meet three times aweek.

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