For many, the holidays are a time to be with family and friends to celebrate. For others, it is a time to shop till you drop and give and receive presents. But for children with special needs, specifically Tourette syndrome, the holiday time can be very difficult. The stress level and excitement that happens between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be tough for both adults and children.
So, what should others expect from a person with TS? And what should the person with TS expect?
A few things you need to remember:
1) People with Tourette syndrome develop more symptoms when they are excited or under stress. The holiday season could bring on more tics than usual. They could happen more frequently or new tics could come on.
2) Try to keep to the routines for your kids and students as much as possible. Go to bed on time, keep meals around the same time, keep homework and other after school activities similar to the rest of the year.
3) Watch your diet. Too much caffeine, chocolate, drinks, etc could cause changes to your life. Keep your diet in check during these tough weeks as everyone stuffs themselves with yummy food. Keep a balance.
4) Find a way to relax. If it is reading a book, getting on the computer to email, taking a walk or writing in your journal, find time to “get away.” This will allow your body to regulate itself. Overall, try not to overstimulate yourself during this already crazy time period.
5) Celebrate and enjoy the time you will have with family and friends. Sometimes throughout the year, life can be tough. So, kick back and enjoy the good times so when you have a tough day down the road, you can look back on the weeks you had positive memories to help you get through whatever may come your way.
And if all else fails, go read the book or watch the movie, Front of the Class. It can never hurt to hear my story again.
Cheers, Brad Cohen
Today, I had a little girl email me a simple question: How do you live with Tourette syndrome….with all the people saying stuff?
She went on to tell me she received the movie Front of the Class, and it was the best thing she got for Christmas.
It was just a simple reminder that kids are still figuring out the game of life. So with that, I remind everyone what has helped me overcome the challenges of living with Tourette syndrome. I hope these ideas help others move forward to follow their dreams.
1) Keep that positive attitude
2) Focus on your strengths…….show the world what makes you shine
3) Educate everyone who will listen and tell them about Tourette syndrome and the challenges you face
4) Never give up……every time someone tells you that you can’t do something, prove them wrong! Show them not only can you do it, but you can do it better than others
5) Surround yourself with people who believe in you
6) Don’t make excuses, because the first excuse will lead to another, after another, after another
7) Find your passion in life and go for it
8 Last but not least……….Don’t let Tourette syndrome win! Don’t allow any of your weaknesses in life get the best of you!
While we are talking about Tourette Syndrome, you can help support the National Tourette Syndrome Association by clicking on the link below and vote to help them win $1 million in the Chase Community Giving Contest. Spread the word. Each person gets five votes and be sure to place one with TSA. Thanks for the support!
Don’t forget, Front of the Class will be on CBS the evening of February 6, 2010.
You can also learn more about the Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation, Inc at www.bradcohentourettefoundation.com
It starts out as an idea, then a dream, and with a lot of hard work it becomes a reality. Camp Twitch and Shout
just completed its 1st Annual overnight camp for children with Tourette Syndrome. During this week, 50 campers and over 35 volunteers had a chance to enjoy the Camp Will-A-Way location of Camp Twin Lakes. Although the camp is located about 1 hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia, people came from across the US to attend.
The children did swimming, drumming, nature, tree climbing, ropes course activities, climbing walls, zip lines, swinging from 50 feet in the air, and made friends with others who were very much like them.
At Camp Twitch and Shout, we wanted the kids to be treated like any other child. We didn’t focus on TS, we just allowed them to be kids.
This week allowed the children to gain independence, be risk takers, be social, and focus on their strengths. Overall, the week was a huge success.
I’m so excited that Jimmy Wolk, who played me as an adult in my movie Front of the Class was able to come volunteer for the week. The group was so excited to meet him.
A big thank you to Hailey my co-director and Tricia the head of the Tourette Syndrome Association of GA for all their hard work. An even bigger thank you to all of the volunteers who dedicated 1 week of their lives to make a difference for our children. And the biggest thank you goes to the campers and their families for trusting us with their kids at Camp Twitch and Shout.
We are already getting ready for next year so get your name on the list if you are interested in helping out in the summer of 2010.
If you are interested in making a donation to the camp to help us with camper scholarships and keeping our costs down, I’d love to chat with you.
You will be able to learn more about Camp Twitch and Shout at www.camptwitchandshout.com
Also find us on facebook or my website!
Enjoy these photos from Camp Twitch and Shout. Thanks to Troy from www.karenimages.com for most of the photos.
Save the date: Twitch and Shout Adventure Week- May 31 – June 5, 2009 with Camp Twin Lakes at Camp Will-A-Way
The Tourette Syndrome Association of Georgia is hosting a 1 week overnight camp for kids with Tourette Syndrome ages 7-17. We are also seeking volunteers ages 18 and older to help out for the week. The location is about 1 hour outside of Atlanta. I will be one of the organizers of the event and I will also be attending for the week.
This week will give children living with Tourette Syndrome an opportunity to enjoy camp activities and meet others with TS. There are many kids who will attend this camp who have never met another person with Tourette’s. It is our goal for kids to be kids and feel like they are not alone dealing with this disorder.
All Tourette children are welcomed and there are scholarships available for kids from Georgia. This will be one week they will never forget!
Please help me spread the word about this great opportunity for kids.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
What’s your New Year’s Resolution?Diet? Exercise? Not watching so much TV? For me, I always found making a New Year’s Resolution kind of funny, because most people jump into their “new” routine and by the end of January or February, they’re back to their “old” routine again. Instead of making a resolution this year, I challenge you to Not Allow “IT” To Win.
Ask Brad: What motivated you to keep going rejection after rejection when you were trying to find a teaching position?Monday, December 29th, 2008
What made me never give up?
You did! Everybody did! Tourette Syndrome did! As you heard in the movie, I didn’t want Tourette Syndrome to win! If I allowed it to win, then TS would always win. For me it was about no excuses! The first time you start making excuses for yourself, it is very difficult to stop.
There were too many people waiting for me to say I can’t do it because of Tourette Syndrome. The more times I got rejected and denied a teaching opportunity, the more it made me what to get that job. I knew I could do it, I just needed to find one person that believed in me too. By my 25th interview, I had the confidence with my interview skills. I knew what the principals were going to ask before they even asked it. My answers were ready to go and I wanted that job.
Many people have obstacles that are placed in front of them throughout their life. This was a pivotal moment for me. My mom kept saying “Come back to St. Louis because you know people here.” My dad said “To go be a substitute teacher and then I would eventually get the job.” But that’s not what I wanted. I couldn’t give in. By my 25th interview I wanted that teaching position so bad. And then it happened where I was finally hired as a 2nd grade teacher.
So, what can I tell others who are looking for a job and have some sort of disability or weakness in life:
- Don’t give up!
- Don’t make excuses!
- Be motivated to prove others wrong when they doubt you!
- Set high expectations and get to that mark!
- Keep that positive attitude. Once it becomes negative, it is hard to go back!
- If you want something bad enough, sometimes you really have to work hard at getting it!
- Don’t look for self pity and for other to feel sorry for you. It won’t get you your job or the goal you have set out for any faster. Stay strong.
- Read my book, Front of the Class, or see the movie! (Of course I’m adding this. My success story is now in book and movie form so I can share my story with others so they can see that if Brad Cohen can do it, then so can they!)
What advice can you give others to help them achieve their goals? Have you struggled to achieve something that took you a while to get?
This is one of the most frequent questions I have been getting. I believe that it is never too early to educate others about your disability or weakness you may have in life.
As you saw in the movie Front of the Class, after I educated the students in Middle School, life started to get better for me. I soon began telling the same 2 minute speech about how I have Tourette Syndrome on the first day of school in each class I had. I then did it at big conventions for my youth group, I did it on the first day of camp and much more. It just began to be part of me and my way of surviving a life with TS.
I’ll never forget that day in Middle School when we educated everyone about TS. It was like this huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Finally TS wasn’t just my secret, now it was a chance for others to make the decision of how they were going to handle the news. Were they going to accept me as who I was, or would they make the choice to not be my friend because I was a little different. Either way was fine with me. I’ve known what it was like to have no friends. I’m not sure it could get any worse?
Click here to go to my website author page where you can scroll down towards the bottom and click on the “Listen to Brad Read a Chapter” section. Press play and listen as I read the part in the book where I gt up to educate the students about Tourette Syndrome.
So my advice is to educate people early. It is never too early to tell others about TS. Many times other people just don’t know. So by being up front and honest about living with TS, it helps others understand the issues you are going through.
Don’t be ashamed of TS or the disability. When your child sees that you are ashamed of it, then they will become upset too. Try the following to educate others:
- Books like Front of the Class or Tic Talk- Read the entire book or just pick short passages to share and then discuss how it relates to you. If it is another issue, find books that talk about your topic.
- Movies like Front of the Class or the HBO special “I Have Tourette’s But Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me” These are both great resources to use. Each has a resource guide to go along with it. There are many movies for many topics available.
- Comic books about TS. The TSA of Georgia has them. Click here to order them from Tricia.
- A Question and Answer Session with the child and the teacher with the class listening.
- Disability Awareness Week- Have the child educate others about the issues they deal with everyday and then tell the students how they can help.
- Do a fundraiser for your charity. Have education happen along the way.
Many of these ideas could help you educate others who are not aware of your issues. What other ideas have you used? What are some ways we can make it easier for children to educate others about Disability Awareness? What is the youngest age you have educated others about your issues?