This Teacher Interviews Special Ed Students To Show The World How Wonderfully Unique They Are
"My goal is to normalize the diversity of the human condition."
Christopher Ulmer is a special education teacher from Jacksonville, Florida, who founded Special Books by Special Kids.
"My very first day of student teaching, I fell in love. I realized my purpose," Ulmer told BuzzFeed.
Special Books by Special Kids is a Facebook page and website where Ulmer posts video interviews of all of his students and other children from across the U.S. who have varying degrees of mental and physical disabilities. And as of today, it is officially a registered non-profit organization! Check out their official announcement here.
Check out the most viewed video, in which Ulmer interacts with a student with autism who loves animals and different biomes:
Ulmer told BuzzFeed that he initially wanted to tell his students' stories in a book, but he was rejected by over 50 publishers. And whenever he'd try to write down his experiences, he realized it didn't give him the same emotional reaction as watching and interacting with it in a video would.
"Human emotion loses translation in print," he said.
So, Ulmer decided to make a video and found that he could have more of an impact that way.
Ulmer told BuzzFeed he was inspired to make the videos after three years of teaching the same seven kids.
"I got so close to these kids that I understood every movement, phrase, and thing they did...and I saw beauty, intelligence, and humor in them," he said. "I wanted the world to see that beauty, intelligence, and humor."
The goal of the videos is also to "normalize the diversity of the human condition," Ulmer said.
He hopes that by watching the videos, more people will be exposed to people with disabilities, and therefore understand and interact with them and their families more.
Ulmer also believes that "people's worldview is shaped by the media they view."
So, by watching these videos, people are gaining exposure to kids and people they see as different.
"A lot of people don't have that exposure, so when they get the opportunity for interaction, they shy away," he added. "I want to give them that exposure so they can then embrace the opportunity."
What started out as one class has now grown to include families across the U.S.
Many people have written to Ulmer, asking him to work with them, and he often travels to do so.
He recently interviewed Katherine, a girl with speech apraxia who had just interviewed for her first job:
Ulmer and his girlfriend will be taking a road trip across the U.S. this summer to meet families and kids all over the country, something he said couldn't be more excited about.
He also can't wait to meet a wide variety of people.