“Be Kind, We’re All In This Together” is a motto of the Seriously Not Boring page because I don’t think we should ever underestimate the power of compassion and community. As a neurodivergent person and the mother of an autistic child I know firsthand the importance of support and accommodation from allies. The world can be an overwhelming place for anyone, so when we find people who are willing to reach out a hand and walk alongside us during the unexpected twists of our journey it is a welcome gift. I recently met one such individual, Michelle, the awesome lady in this picture who went out of her way to help me and my son. She made such an impression that I thought you should meet her.
Before I tell you the story let me be clear that I am not talking about standard courtesy and respect. I never applaud people for treating my son with basic human dignity or even for showing him kindness. He, and everyone else, deserves no less than that. No one should be made to feel like they are a hero somehow simply for being friends with or kind to a person with a disability. What I am talking about are those times we see an intentional, extravagantly helpful, go-out-of-your way act of support.
So, back to our story. My son has limited food options due the sensory issues related to autism. Change can also be overwhelming for him. For years he has relied on a specific store brand of nutritional supplement drinks to help meet his dietary needs. Occasionally I can’t find the item on the shelf and end up at customer service in search of this highly-needed, highly-preferred staple of my son’s diet. Michelle and others have helped me with that in the past. In general every time I have seen Michelle at the front counter she is hardworking and patient, even when faced with challenging customers or complicated requests.
Two weeks ago when I walked into the warehouse store because we were almost out of the shakes at home. Imagine my concern when the boxes were not only missing from the shelf, but their designated slot had been reassigned as well. I rushed to the front and asked Michelle if she could assist me because she had been so helpful in the past. I knew she was familiar with the product. Little did I know that she was already supposed to be off the clock and was about to leave when I walked up. Michelle took one look at me, paused for only a second, and then went to work her magic. Friendly and patient as always, she took the time to look up everything she could to find out more about the missing product. She then radioed for the person in charge of ordering and stocking, waited for them to come talk with us, and also called the supplier. They all confirmed my worst fears. The item was not just out of stock, it was, *gasp*, DISCONTINUED. <DUNdaDUNNNN>
This news made me a bit emotional, I’m going to be honest. There I was, standing at the customer service desk with tears in my eyes and panic in my heart, hoping someone could help us. A parent of a child with preferred foods or an adult similarly affected might understand my feelings. Continue reading
13-year-old Thomas has a passion for technology and animation. For years he has worked on his YouTube Channel, creating content and uploading videos. Imagine his shock and heartbreak when he discovered one day that everything on his channel had been deleted, and that all those hours of hard work had been reduced to nothing. Even more upsetting was the eventual revelation that the videos had been deleted by a classmate, one that Thomas had considered a friend.
When Thomas was younger he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Children on the Autism Spectrum are unfortunately often a target of bullying, and Thomas has experienced that firsthand on multiple occasions. Usually Thomas just ignores the negative treatment and tries to believe the best in people. He never dreamed that a friend would be so cruel as to deliberately erase all of his hard work. It eventually came to light that this child had been periodically bullying Thomas all year, but Thomas still tried to forgive and befriend him.
The moment Thomas told his parents about the deleted account they sprung into action. At first the deleted YouTube content seemed unrecoverable, so his father posted about it on LinkedIn: Continue reading
Taylor Carpenter is an eight-year-old who recently competed in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, earning a silver medal in dance. When she and her sister returned to school they were welcomed home with school-wide celebration and victory lap.
Taylor’s father, Michael, posted the video to Facebook, saying, “This is inclusion. This is community. This is love.”
“Words cannot express the feeling the love, the joy, the pride, the friendship displayed and represented in the video that represents part of Taylor’s school welcoming her home…celebrating her accomplishment, her journey, and most importantly her. To all involved in her life thank you everything you pour into her she pours into her life and into her dance.” Continue reading
Far too many frightening things happen in our world, and recent violent events weigh heavy on my heart. These events cause concern about what the future will bring for not just the world but for my own children. It also makes me wonder what, if anything, I should tell them about the harsh stories in the news.
One afternoon I was out running errands with my oldest son, and checked my phone after pulling into a parking space. I saw a news alert that the number of dead from a horrifying attack had just been raised. Without thinking about it, an “OH NO!” escaped my lips. Then I sat in stunned silence, overwhelmed with worry about the state of our broken world. The world my children will inherit.
From the backseat I heard a small, concerned voice. “What is it, Mommy?”
I had a choice to make. Part of me wanted him to stay innocent and pure. To keep believing in the goodness of his fellow human beings. The other part of me wanted him to know that there is evil out there and he must be on guard against it. Should I keep protecting him from the harsh realities of this world we live in, or was he old enough to understand?
I took a deep breath, and began speaking with a shaky voice, Continue reading
My youngest son and I recently had the opportunity to talk via Skype with Christopher Ulmer, aka “Mr. Chris,” of Special Books by Special Kids. Usually Chris interviews other people, so we thought it would be fun to turn the tables and be the ones asking the questions to learn more about him and his students. For those of you who may not know who he is, Chris is an exceptional education teacher in Florida. His unique and affirming teaching style as well as his extraordinary class of students has captured the hearts of many and become a viral sensation. The first video to gain widespread attention showcased his “compliment time” with the students at the start of each school day, and it was featured first at “The Mighty” and then in an article on ABC News. From there the message spread all over the mainstream media, reaching far beyond the typical “Awareness” circles, and Chris even made an appearance on Rachel Ray’s television show. The messages from Mr. Chris and his students continue to spread all over the internet, and the page has even been mentioned on unexpected sites like MTV, prompting Ashton Kutcher to say, “Mr. Chris, you’re a great teacher.”
Two videos from our conversation are embedded at the bottom of this post. In the first video he talks with my youngest son (his older brother decided not to participate because this isn’t his kind of thing 😉 ). Noodle Dog makes an appearance, there is some Minecraft talk in the middle, and an eyeball crossing contest at the end. Chris described his teaching philosophy and what influenced his decision to become an exceptional education teacher. I was also finally able to ask something I have long wondered about; it seems, when watching the SBSK videos, that teaching in a private school setting allows a level of flexibility in the classroom that wouldn’t be able to occur in a public school setting (for many reasons). He addresses that, as well as whether or not they have any sort of standardized testing. He also recalls an excellent and entertaining musical concert performed by his students, and all the work that went into it. You will have to watch the video to hear the fun story.
Update: here is the short “highlights” version of just the silly parts. 🙂