“Front of the Class” When I think of “Front of the Class” I actually think back to when I was child growing up and I was mainstreamed in public schools on Long Island, NY and Spring, Texas. The only “special” arrangement I had in school was my mom made sure I sat in the first row in class at school.
I remember, I used to hate that first day in class, because I always prayed and hoped that, I would naturally end up in the first row of class by alphabetable order or if luck had its way, I got to choose my seat. However, I remember I hated it when I had to tell the teacher why I had to sit in front, especially in front of all my peers, on the first day of school! The first day was exciting enough! w/o adding to the excitement! You see, I was like every other kid and I didn’t want to be thought of as “handicapped” or “different.” Well, I survived many “first days” and “front of the class.”
However, the “Front of the Class” I am actually going to write about, really hit home to me this past Sunday. Why? I watched the Hallmark movie “Front of the Class” about Brad Cohen and his Toureg’s Syndrome.
You are probably wondering, “Why did it hit home?” It really touched me for many reasons. Yes, I don’t have Toureg’s but I do have a physical disability- profound deafness.
My life and Brad’s life were similiar in just about every way, except for the obvious type of disability we have. I also learned how to prevail with a “can do” attitude and lots of perserverance.
There were some real good examples in the movie, that really reverbated with me.
The first part that hit home was when Brad went to the Support group with his mom and he was surrounded with others who had Toureg’s. He and his mom stayed awhile, but Brad and his mom were thinking, “he and I are not like these others.” Yes, in reality we are, but we choose to handle our challenges with a “winning attitude” which made the difference! I knew exactly were he was coming from, those others accepted Toureg’s and did little to fight it! Brad was thinking, “I am not like them” and he went on to show the world, that Toureg’s was not going to win. As soon, as I saw this scene, immediately a child hood memory, came racing to my mind! The memory of my mom, taking me to speech therapy, at this “special hospital” about an hour away from home. I used to hate going to speech therapy! In reality, it wasn’t the speech therapy that bothered me, it was seeing the other children at this hospital ( a hospital for children with physical and emotional disabilities.” You see I was like Brad, I was not like those other kids and I was determined not to be different. I would come home so unhappy and I was a happy go lucky, outgoing kid. So, thank god, mom stopped taking me there, because in the end, it did more bad then good!
The Second part that hit home, was the part when Brad was going on those gazillion of job interviews……that has happened to me too in my job search and when I first started showing horses….I failed so miserably at first, but I hung in there, and tried again, and tried again, and tried again, etc….until finally obtaining a job and having success showing horses.
The third most important point that I related to was whether you should disclose your disability or not……I have not ever done that in a job interview. I will be brutually honest, great jobs are very competitive even when you are “perfect.” I just never felt comfortable relaying my hearing loss, part of the reason was, I considered myself just like everyone and I never wanted my hearing loss to be the reason why I did or did not obtain a position. However, I usually told my boss after I had been on the job for a while and I had a chance to get to know my boss and my work enviroment. I had to be totally comfortable to do this. Look, I realize my way, may not be the best way, but it worked for me……. I realize with ADA and all that, things may chance, but then again, they may not change depending on the person’s knowledge and how attune they are to people who are physical “challenged.”
Another part that I totally agreed on! was that physically “challenged” people are great workers! Brad was First Year Teacher of the Year! We know what it is like to be “different” and we always proving to the world that we can do an outstanding job in spite of our disability.
Finally, the “Can do and Positive Attitude” combined with tons of perserverance. I totally related to that too!!! I also had to use those same qualities in my life to help me live a fulfilling, satisfying and rewarding life.
Thank you Brad Cohen for sharing your story and telling the world. Brad is also a speaker and I am too, I am sharing my story too! to help inspire people too! We do not need to let our physical disabilities take over our lives, instead we learn to live with our disabilities and do awesome things in spite of our disabilities.
If you missed the movie, I highly suggest your buy it or rent it when it comes out on DVD.
“Anything in life is possible, if you believe!!!!!!!!!!”
As Always, Have a Sunny Day!!!! Susanna