Brad Cohen’s Book about Tourette Syndrome: Also a Hallmark Movie

Watch the movie about Tourette syndrome that tells the incredible story of Brad Cohen’s life. The CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame original movie is about a teacher with Tourette syndrome. Read Cohen’s 2005 book, co-written with Lisa Wysocky, entitled: Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had to get an additional peek into the story behind the wonderfully inspiring movie.

The book is very simplistically written, at approximately a middle school level, and I recommend that parents of children with tics invest in it and either give it to their kids or read it out loud with them. Really celebrate this book together and focus on all the goodness it provides in the long term.

Read a review about the book that inspired the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie "Front of the Class" Learn about the cast, get behind the scenes info. Meet the real Brad and Nancy Cohen. This is a movie about a teacher with Tourette syndrome that was inspired by a book.
Front of the Class cast with Brad and Nancy Cohen

I think Brad’s story about a teacher with Tourette syndrome will have a lasting impression that the movie alone may not fully capture. The book shows a smooth and coherent Brad speaking clearly to us without the physical barriers of Tourette syndrome to distract us. And the book really takes you on a journey that I imagine can’t be captured fully in a 2 hour film.

But the Hallmark folks are not going to disappoint their viewers with their film.

Front of the Class Movie about Tourette Syndrome is Realistic

Brad promises that it is as true to his real life as possible. He says, “Hallmark Hall of Fame decided they wanted to create a family movie and have my story be as authentic as possible. They wanted it to be as real as possible even down to my exact tics I do.”

Book Goes Deeper than the Hallmark Movie about Tourette Syndrome

Brad Cohen’s story about a teacher with Tourette syndrome is uplifting. He coaches us to hang in there, fight the fight, never give up and above all else, celebrate this distraction as a “constant companion”.

The book about living with Tourette syndrome reads much like I imagine Brad speaks, minus the interjections of his occasional vocals.

Who he is in your mind’s eye is Brad, the truly centered, determined, and confident Brad. This is what he desperately tries to display to the folks in the real world. But ironically, it is the folks in his literary world that really get it, get that part of him that only his real friends get. The other folks in his life– his childhood teachers, elementary classmates, and later the restaurant workers, theater managers, sports fans, don’t. Even the 24 school principals who interview him but refused to hire him didn’t.

Readers will understand that these folks just can’t see past his involuntary interruptions long enough to get to know him as a living, breathing, intelligent thinking human being with basic rights. But still he plugs on, despite the Tourette syndrome. He often times shows empathy for the very people who ridicule him, too.

“My life with Tourette’s has made me realize that everyone has a ‘thing’ that haunts them in some way. It might be prejudice or chronic illness. It might be physical limitations or life circumstances or ego or pride or jealousy or hate, but everyone has their thing. When we can control the thing, we feel empowered and optimistic. But when the thing wins, we travel the road to despair. The key is to find a road that leads around your particular limitation, a road that maybe has more bends in it but gets you to the same point in the end” (Cohen, 83).

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21 Comments on Brad Cohen’s Book about Tourette Syndrome: Also a Hallmark Movie

  1. Just wanted to say thanks to Brad for working with me over his holiday weekend to get this article ‘just right’–
    Thanks Brad, you were great to work with. Good luck with the paperback release and the movie!

  2. Hi Caryn,

    Loved your article on Brad and Front of the Class! I have the book and agree 100% with you. It is wonderful and Brad is amazingly inspiring. I was disappointed, though, that you did not mention that the book was co-written by Lisa Wysocky ( Co-writers put a lot of time and effort into a project and have a big impact on its outcome. That the book reads so well is as much as testament to her efforts as Brad’s story. Anyway, I hope a lot of people tune in to the movie Dec. 7 on CBS. I know I will.

  3. Thank you Caryn for giving me the opportunity to share my story with your readers. I’m honored that you thought of me because I believe my story can help make a difference in the lives of many people who both have Tourette’s or not. My story is about giving the underdog a chance and the potential that could happen when the risk is made. I appreciate the positive review and I hope your readers get a chance to either read my book or see the movie. Thanks for all the support.


    • I worked with an associate who had Tourettes. I was the only one who understood him. People played tricks on him and he was removed from employment. I felt bad about it and 2 years later I got a phone call from a new employer that allowed me to provide background for him to get a new position. I spoke with authority and as a certified teacher that I “knew” what a good job he could do and that Tourettes was not a limitation form him. Plus he had been on a new medication that really helped tremendously. I talked to the interviewer for 2 hours on a Sunday. At the end I put all my best recommendations for Derek on the phone that I could. I was pleased when I heard he got the job and also was to be married as well. I’m happy that I could do something to help him get a job that he deserved and would be happy in. I could relate well to your story and the classroom, having been a teacher for 7 years myself. Thanks!

  4. Hi there. This is off-topic…Thanks for your comment on my blog. I like your home here too! I was wondering if you’ve read Omnivore’s Dilemma since you have so much info about corn. It’s a great read. I look forward to browsing. Ashley

  5. im in the movie i sit next to the young brad in the classroom from the flash back scenes it airs december 7th 9/8 central

  6. Hi Cody!
    Thanks for stopping by. How exciting for you to be in a movie! I’ve always wondered how people get parts as extras in movies. I imagine this has been quite an experience for you, meeting the actors and getting experience in movie making. We will be watching out for you on Dec. 7th! Stop back again soon!

  7. Hi Caryn,
    I really enjoyed reading your article about Brad Cohen. After reading all of your comments to parents and young people encouraging them to read this wonderful book, I was wondering if you were aware of a recent YA novel published by another former school teacher who also has Tourettes. Jerk, California was released this September by Penguin and the main character, Sam, is a high school senior with TS. Jonathan Friesen, the author, was diagnosed later in life with TS. Jonathan’s comment about his book follow:

    “It’s not your typical YA novel. Then again, Tourette Syndrome isn’t a typical condition. My own twitching hand is proof of that. Above all, I wanted to write it real–how it looks, how it feels. It took years to get it right, but the story was worth the wait!”

    I would be glad to send you a copy of this book if you would be interested in taking a look at it. After reading Jerk, California, I felt a door of understanding about this difficult condition had opened for me.
    Hope to hear from you.
    Gail Smith

  8. Hello! I just finished watching the movie, Front of the Class. Words can’t describe how moving it was for me. I have severe TS (both motor and vocal) almost identical to what I witness in the movie… I’m currently an engineering student at UM and I just sent an email to the feature writer, James A. Fussell to thank him for his and Brad Cohen’s work.

    Thank you as well, Caryn Talty, for this article. The article was extremely well-written and it has convinced me to save up and buy a copy of his book.

    I’m wondering if it would be possible to communicate directly with Brad Cohen by email? Thanks again to everyone for all the good you’ve done.

  9. Brad,
    You are a remarkable Man!!! You give inspiration for anyone who is different in a world where people are looked at being the same. My son has multiple birth defects and has had multiple surgeries and people try to put limits on what he is capable of doing. He’s already past some of the limits they put on him. You life means a lot to me and gives me hope for my own son.
    Michelle Jasperson

  10. My son 11yo just loved the movie about Brad. He watched it 3 times in a 2 days. We had it our DVR and somehow it got erased and we can’t seem to find a copy of the movie. He wants to share this movie with his princpal and our Church youth pastor. We are so disappointed we can’t find a copy anyplace. Can you please help us please? Maybe you can forward this to Brad. Nicholas has tourettes and has enough courage to talk to his school about his challenges with this neurological surprize. We will pay for a copy, please letr us know.
    Thank you Terri

    • Terri,
      Brad said the DVD is scheduled to come out March 25 and should be at most Hallmark stores. I am not sure, but it may be possible to pre-order them at your local Hallmark store if you call and ask.

  11. Hi my name is Karl. I have TS also. Motor tics and Vocal tics. I am 51 years old and have had TS since I was 11 years old. When I was a kid growing up they did not know what was wrong with me. They put me in a Special Education Class. It was very hard growing up. My parents would take me to the Doctor’s. The Doctor’s would persribe all these different medications for me to take. And, none of these medications would work for me. So, after years of taking all these different medications I’ve decided to stop taking them. I felt like a human experiment. I am writing in regards to the Hallmark Movie, Front Of The Class. I just seen on T.V. I want to Thank Hallmark for Airing this on T.V. In all the years, I’ve never seen a Movie on Tourette Syndrome. Thank You Hallmark Again, I hope you Air this on T.V. again and again. It will definitely Educate People. And maybe, it will be a little easier on people with Tourette Syndrome if people seen this Great Movie that You, Brad Cohen and the Hallmark People Made Possible for people to see. Thank You, Karl.

  12. Hallmark did a great job making Brad Cohen’s movie which I saw last night. I especially liked the back drop of that sweet little girl who died of Cancer. We must recognize, like her mother, that it is one’s goodness that somehow transcends all else.

    Thank you, Brad, for being who you are. Now, we the viewers and readers get to experience that wonderful positive energy that has graced your family, friends, community and most of all, your students. We need more teachers like you.

    Larry Esposito

  13. Thanks Brad and Hallmark. I watched in yesterday (May 2) here in Jamaica, West Indies and it certainly touched me. Thanks for everything.

  14. i loved the story, he was a great man & also a great teacher, he was an inspiration to all the teachers.
    my mom was a teacher…and I’m so proud to my mom, and also to all the teachers who’s like Brad Cohen… it was a very great story!

    -BRAD COHEN was a great TEACHER!!!

  15. Hi,
    I am a teacher in a Christian school. All of our teachers saw the movie at an in-service meeting. I cried and was so inspired by Brad. We are required to include all students in our classrooms and I am so glad we practice this. We need more Brad’s in our schools and classrooms. Laura Kryger

  16. Hello,
    I just wanted to say Thank You for your article! I caught a part of this movie on Hallmark and didn’t know the name of the movie until I saw your posting. THANK YOU because now I can watch it in its entirety!

  17. I am working with my high school son facing the challenges of high functioning autism, and the gifts of his innate musical ability to compose original music on all types of keyboards, and seeing him use his gifts to reach other students on the spectrum. I have recently met a gifted college level graphic design student who is currently collaborating with me on Creating “Alphabetitus” (TM) a new website for educational information and resources for autism who, like you, has worked and succeeded far beyond his own childhood Tourette’s and so, his insights are invaluable to me and his successes are more impressive to me after seeing this movie. Thank you.

  18. I have been teaching for 10 years with Tourette’s. Previously I had worked in retailing(WalMart) unfortunately could never advance due to prejudices from upper managmeent due to them not understanding that it did not affect my ability.

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