In the fourth grade, Brad Cohen says he began to feel different from his classmates. "I started making weird noises," he says. "Everyone was paying attention to me...they thought I was the funny guy."
What Brad's teachers, friends and family didn't understand was that he had no control over the strange sounds he was making and no idea what was happening to his body.
Unable to control his outbursts, Brad says his teachers began punishing him for acting out in class. Finally, when Brad was 12 years old, he was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called Tourette syndrome. At the time, few understood the disorder...especially Brad's classmates. "I had no friends," he says. "The mean kids would parade around me and mock the noises that I was doing."
Then, Brad's principal came up with an idea that changed the course of his life. He suggested that Brad stand up in front of the school and share his personal struggle with Tourette's. Brad was stunned by the response he received. "Everybody started to clap for me," he says. "It was really the first time in my life that I was positively reinforced for having Tourette syndrome. It was on that day that I realized the power of education."