Joking Around with Mr. Chris

 

Here is a shorter version of our conversation with Christopher Ulmer, the well-known exceptional education teacher who created the page “Special Books by Special Kids.” Basically this is the gag reel, and it is less than three minutes of Mr. Chris joking around with the Little Ninja. There is an eyeball crossing contest and the famous Noodle Dog even makes an appearance. It was fun to see firsthand how much Chris enjoys interacting with children.

To see the longer version and to read a recap of our entire conversation you can visit the previous post: Our Talk with Christopher Ulmer of Special Books by Special Kids: A Seriously Not Boring Interview. While we talked Chris described his students with a great deal of pride, saying, “The children in my class are some of the most honest, pure and happy kids in the world. They see things how they really are. They don’t see all the excess stuff… and I think if we all saw things that way the world would be a better place.” In that post you can learn more about Chris’s teaching philosophy and why he thinks the SBSK message is so important.

Thanks again for talking with us, Mr. Chris, and it was nice to “meet” you!

 

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Our Trip to the TV Station/ Review of Top Toys

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My youngest son and I recently had the opportunity to visit a local television studio to record a piece about the Holiday shopping season. A reporter named Morgan Dean (who is also a Morning News anchor) provided some of the items on many of the “Top Toys” lists and we gave our feedback. For the Little Ninja this was a dream come true because, 1. Toys, and 2. He wants to be a media STAR. (He is obsessed with YouTube, and I’m pretty sure Thomas Sanders is his spirit animal).

My oldest son declined the opportunity to be interviewed on camera because he is more a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. I totally respect that, and think it’s cool that my boys have such interesting personalities that are so different from each other.

Here is a link to the article and interview on the WRIC website: http://wric.com/2015/11/24/hottest-toys-of-the-holiday-get-a-jump-on-black-friday/

Taping went pretty well, even though it involved a good bit of needing to wait quietly. That can be hard for any child, but especially one who is Autistic. I had initially been concerned about how my son would handle himself in studio and on-camera, but he did great. I was thankful that Autism didn’t get in the way of something he wanted to do, or make things extra hard that day (Don’t get me wrong, he is proud of his unique brain. He is also aware of the challenges that it can cause). The only hiccup was when he started playing with the electronic lightsaber toy, and the first thing he blurted out was, “IT SOUNDS LIKE A FART!”  In all honesty, it did. You can see him giggling about it near the beginning of the clip. His “fart” comment surpirsed us all and got a good laugh, so he became stuck on the idea of farts for a while. I worried we wouldn’t get back on track. Thankfully the moment passed (see what I did there?), and he went back to being his typical exuberant self. The fart comments didn’t make it into the final edit, by the way.

Another cool thing was that Autism didn’t need to be a part of the dialogue that day, even though we have talked with WRIC before about Autism. In this instance we were simply people (and bloggers) talking about TOYS. Moving on…

Our friend Carissa Garabedian of Macaroni Kid Richmond and the special-needs website Know Different was also interviewed for the piece. She got to talk about the Girl Scout Cookie Oven among other things, and it looked yummy. Well, the cookies did. I always wanted an Easy Bake Oven as a kid and never got one. This looks similar and made my inner child VERY happy. I WANT ONE. Plus I want to be able to make Thin Mints on a whim.

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After we completed taping we were able to take a brief tour of the studio.

Green screens are COOL
Green screens are COOL

The Little Ninja was mesmerized by the Green Screen.

Then they let us venture behind the Anchor Desk.

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“Dad Sees Color”: Video of colorblind man’s joy at seeing the world in a new way

“Our Dad* has lived 24,998 days. Days filled with hope, fear, accomplishment, sadness, joy. But his days have been very different from yours and mine, because he’s color blind. He’s never seen red, pink, orange, green; the list goes on. But this Father’s Day, thanks to EnChroma, we were able to give him a gift beyond description… the gift of color.” These are the opening lines to a video, posted by a college friend (and linked to at the end of this post), that show’s his father’s reaction to wearing Color Blindness Glasses for the first time. (*not my Dad). 

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The message that I took away from this video was not that their Dad was broken and now he is fixed. That’s not the case. He was, and is, a complete person with a full life. His children simply wanted to be able to give him a new experience, as well as the ability to see things in a different way when he so wished.

Several videos about this amazing new technology have crossed my path recently, but I hadn’t watched any until now. I was more interested in seeing this particular one since it was about the father of a friend, and I’m so glad I took the time. There are many heartwarming moments in the video, including his reaction to the beauty of his flower garden. He seemed to be overcome with emotion.

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I found it incredibly moving when he cradled his daughter’s chin in his hand and gazed at the color of her eyes, saying, “I’ve never seen them before.” It was a stirringly tender exchange, and a precious moment for them to share.

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Way To Go, Kelly Jo!

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During a recent family outing to a theme park I decided to ride a terrifying roller coaster for the very first time. The park had just opened so there weren’t many people around yet, and I walked to the seats in the very back. My husband and children declined the opportunity to join me for this particular ride because they’re not fond of extreme heights ;-). A lady walked up and asked if she could ride with me. I responded that I was happy for the company.

We started chatting and she told me that her name was Kelly Jo and that this was her first summer since losing 100 pounds! She was incredibly excited to be riding this roller coaster because she was never able to fit into the seats before. As she told her wonderful story I found myself tearing up. I then asked if I could share her story with you, and she graciously agreed. She said she lost the weight simply by changing her diet and exercising. I found her story especially inspiring due to some recent personal struggles. I was also thrilled and honored that I could share such a fun and incredibly meaningful experience with her.

We totally crushed that coaster, and the picture at the top of the post is our celebratory pose afterwards. Awesome job, Kelly Jo, and I am so glad to have met you! Thank you for sharing your exciting, happy story!  I am sure you have many more adventures ahead.

My own children had a recent victory of their own at the theme park. They used to be terrified of all roller coasters and this is the first summer they have even been willing to entertain the thought. We rode a couple small ones at first, and even then it took a lot of explanation and prep work. Then one day they simply walked onto a new roller coaster and trusted me that they would be okay, without knowing any details about the coaster (other than the fact that it didn’t go upside down). And guess what? They LOVED it. They didn’t even get upset when it got really dark.

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Victory is ours! This is a BIG DEAL, and it’s about more than just roller coasters. Most of you know that with spectrum disorders comes a lot of anxiety. BatDad and I try to walk a fine line between respecting the Ninjas’ sensibilities and also encouraging them to try new things. I am incredibly proud of them, and took the above picture when they were done. They conquered the coaster AND their fears. Anxiety: 0, Fun: 1

Who knew that a theme park could also provide opportunities to celebrate overcoming personal obstacles?

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Is It Summer Yet?

There is still over a month left in the school year for my children, but I am pretty sure I hit a wall this week. Somewhere between recent school projects, Standardized Testing review, and my complete and utter failure at appreciating my boys’ teachers during Teacher Appreciation week I hit critical mass. It was all I could do to drag myself out of bed this morning and pack lunches… AGAIN. And it happened earlier this year than in years past.

I was reminded of a picture from two years ago, so I dug it out.  This was the state of the Littlest Ninja’s backpack when there was two weeks left in the school year. That little safety pin had been bravely hanging on, holding the ripped pieces together, but finally just said, “Screw it. I give up.”

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I looked at the pitiful sight and I was all, “I know, Backpack. I KNOWWWW.”

Is it summer yet? I am ready for relaxed schedules and days spent at the pool.

I am also fully aware that it won’t be long until I am asking, “Is it time for them to go back to school yet?” But today, I am that backpack. Or maybe the safety pin, I dunno. But you get the analogy.

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