Posts Tagged ‘exceptionalities’

Ask Brad: At what age should we start telling people our child has a disability?

Saturday, December 20th, 2008
Bringing All Children Together

Bringing All Children Together

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Comic books about TS.  The TSA of Georgia has them.  Click here to order them from Tricia.
  4. A Question and Answer Session with the child and the teacher with the class listening.
  5. Disability Awareness Week- Have the child educate others about the issues they deal with everyday and then tell the students how they can help.
  6. 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?

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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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