Issues

Dedicated teacher helps society understand children with special needs

Chris Ulmer from Facebook.

“Normalizing the diversity of the human condition.” Those are a few of the first words you’ll read on the website for Special Books by Special Kids.

The founder of the non-profit, Chris Ulmer, aims to share the stories of children with special needs in hopes that society will soon accept that these children, no matter their diagnosis, are normal.

No publisher would sign on to print the book Ulmer had envisioned, so he moved forward, creating a website and Facebook page. He travels to the homes of families who agree to be interviewed, and records his meeting with them, allowing them to share their stories. The children get to show the world why they should not be looked down upon or pitied.

Most of the children Ulmer works with both as a teacher and during his road trips are what he calls “neurodiverse” meaning they have neurological conditions ranging from autism to brain injury.  Each child is unique and each has something to offer the world if we can see them through Ulmer’s eyes and their own, as well.

“We call it neurodiverse because there’s many different types of brains in the world,” Ulmer said in an interview. “That’s not weird. That’s not strange. That’s just diversity. The human species is diverse.”

The unknown is scary for all of us, and when we don’t know anything about a certain condition or diagnosis, we are frightened by it. For parents, having a preborn child diagnosed with a condition is extremely scary, and they are often convinced to abort because of that fear heightened by pressure from doctors. Ulmer’s dedication to his students and other children with special needs could help parents find hope for their babies.

“I believe our society as a whole wants to learn about the special needs community,” Ulmer said. “But there’s not that safe platform. People are kind of hesitant to ask questions and learn. Because they’re afraid they might offend somebody. I want to create that platform where it’s a safe space. You can go and actually see and learn what it’s like to have a diagnosis.”

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