What’s The BIG Deal?

whats-the-big-dealI received an email from a parent of a child with Tourette Syndrome which hits on a huge issue: What’s the big deal?


Here is the letter:
My 9-year-old child was having (in addition to his usual tics) a pretty severe episode of eye tics (rubbing, rolling and blinking) that had been going on for a couple of weeks. His Dad and I were wondering how in the world he could see enough to get anything done!

I asked him one day how things were going in school – I told him that I noticed that he was having a lot of eye tics and that I just wanted to make sure he could see enough to get his work done and learn what he needed to learn.

His response was “I can still hear!”

And that was that – he ran off to play …… his eye tics, as severe as there were, never seemed to phase him – it was as if he was saying that it did not matter if his eyes were ticcing a lot, as long as he could still hear he was cool – always looking on the bright side!!

I hope that he keeps that positive attitude and wonder what as a parent I can do to help him. 

I love this story because it’s a reminder of the resilience that children have no matter what issue that is placed in front of them.

Growing up with TS, I always knew what my “issues” were, but what I quickly noticed was that my “issues” were different then the “issues” my parents, teachers and the public was having. Overall, a child with TS, or any other disability, quickly learns to move on. In this case, the child has severe eye tics and what looks like a huge obstacle in life to the parent, but it wasn’t even an issue to the child. In matter of fact, the child more or less stated that things could be worse and at least he has his hearing.

What a great lesson in life! What is the big deal? You see, there is no big deal for the child because they figured it out. They learned to move forward despite their challenges. But parents want to be parents and protect their child and make sure everything is OK. Parents, continue to do this, but at the same time, give your child the benefit of the doubt.

So, what can parents do for their child? Support them, love them, let them know that you are there for them. And maybe most importantly in this situation, LISTEN
to them. This child stated loud and clear that he is fine and didn’t need their parents help at this time.

The lesson we take away is that children “figure it out and make it work.” Being in the classroom, I’ve had the opportunity to see my students do amazing things. Parents, be careful not to enable your child too much. Allow them to be problem solvers and figure things out for themselves rather than always catching them before they fall. Communication is the key.

The other big idea that the parent realized was about a positive attitude. As I wrote in Front of the Class it is important for children to keep that positive attitude. This is the perfect example of how a positive attitude allowed the child to move forward, instead of holding him back.

Thanks for sharing this conversation with our readers. As you can see, children with special needs just want to be treated like everyone else………even if they can’t see perfectly.


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"Brad Cohen is a walking billboard for the idea of living positively. He is like a cold drink on a hot day--refreshing, energizing, and likely to put a smile on your face."
Tim Shriver - Chairman of Special Olympics

"I have observed the magic of Brad Cohen in the classroom. He has turned Tourette Syndrome into an asset, and his life into inspiration."
Senator Johnny Isakson, Georgia

"Brad Cohen's story is a triumph of hope, determination, will and relentless good humor."
Peter J. Hollenbeck, Ph.D., Professor and
Associate Head of Biological Sciences,
Purdue University

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