As we celebrate July 4th in the United States and think about our freedoms, it made me think about people I have been hearing from. Some have Tourette Syndrome, others have disabilities or weaknesses in life that cause challenges to them daily. Some of these challenges others notice while some are challenges that are on the inside.

How can we use our freedoms to help our situations?

1) Freedom of Speech:
I have always believed in being up front and honest about living with Tourette Syndrome. I have learned that educating others about why I make funny noises and weird faces makes my life easier and eases their concerns about why I’m doing what I do.

The hardest thing about living with TS is ignorance. It is the people that don’t know and don’t want to know about TS that make my life difficult. But once people know, then they can make the decision about how they want to handle the situation.

There are many movies and books like Front of the Class that can help children articulate to others about their situation.

How will you use your freedom of speech?

2) Freedom of the Press
In my life, the press has often been a vehicle to share my story. Yes, we know about the book and movie, but also in the form of newspapers, magazines, newsletters, Internet websites, news shows on TV and others. If it was my story or someone else’s story, education was happening. It is important to share both educational pieces as well as success stories. People need to know that they are not alone. The press and Internet has helped us in our cause.

How can you use the press to help share your story?

3) Freedom of Choice
It is important for you to choose successful situations. It may be a school, groups of friends, religious activities, or where to live. Success breeds success. So please put yourself in a win-win situation to help you and your family move forward.

What will your next choice be?

4) Freedom of Opportunity
Always remember that hope is your friend. Know you are not alone. Understand that there are others out there that are dealing with or having dealt with your situation before. Find the support you need in them.

Give yourself a chance to try new things and enjoy the things you have always done. Once you’ve figured that out, then excel at it. Celebrate your success. Then share that success with others as you pay it forward. Give others the same opportunities you have been given and the feelings you will receive can never be replaced.

What opportunities are you ready to embrace?

As Martin Luther King said “Let Freedom Ring!” I add to that “Let Freedom Ring Loud and Proud!”


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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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