Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

Blog #196~Netflix Comedy Special “Disgraceful”

Blog #196~ Netflix Comedy Special “Disgraceful”

The Netflix comedy special, “Disgraceful” by Tom Segura has recently sparked outrage in the Down syndrome community.  The comedian, known for pushing the boundaries, talked about how you can’t use the words, “that is retarded” anymore.  In this act, he takes it a step further by suggesting that it be replaced with the term, “extra 21st chromosome,” directly mocking people with Down syndrome.  The words used in this program are wrong, offensive and by definition hate speech.  I wouldn’t be doing my job as Nick’s mother if I didn’t advocate for my son, and other individuals having Down syndrome.

To view the full transcript of this piece along with how the Down syndrome community and leading support groups are responding click here:

https://themighty.com/2018/01/tom-segura-retarded-down-syndrome-netflix/?utm_source=search&utm_medium=site&utm_term=Tom%20Segura%20Netflix

Netflix is promoting this special, “Disgraceful” by claiming this comedian “gives voice to the sordid thoughts you never say out loud”.  So it appears that these “sordid thoughts” about people having Down syndrome are fair game.  We live in a country where there is freedom of speech, and certainly comedians push boundaries all the time.  But it is extremely hurtful and offensive to make a joke at the expense of people like my son, and other individuals who have Down syndrome.

Change.org has a petition that calls for Netflix to:

*Remove the anti-down syndrome rhetoric from the show.

*Take the anti-disability sketch out of the trailer for the show.

*Issue a public apology for perpetuating hate speech and stereotype to the Down syndrome community.

take it down netflix

To sign the Change.org petition click here:

https://www.change.org/p/netflix-take-it-down-netflix

If you have a Netflix account you can also give “comedian” Tom Segura a thumbs down.

Using the R-word and mocking individuals who have Down syndrome is NOT funny, in fact it’s disgraceful.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Government/Legal Matters Related to Special Needs, IEP (Indivdualized Education Plan)

Blog #195~ Being a Firestarter

Blog #195~ Being a Firestarter

What is the difference between those bold enough to pursue their dreams and others who never get comfortable enough to ignite their lives? The doers are “Firestarters” and, because of them, the world is a much different, and often, better place.

Fire

Are you looking for a way to ignite your life and dreams?  Firestarters-How Innovators, Instigators and Initiators Can Inspire You To Ignite Your Own Life,  is a new book released last week; that will help you to do so. As I wrote in last week’s Blog #194, Firestarters are innovators, instigators and initiators that get things accomplished.  Recently I had the opportunity to interview one of the co-authors of this new and powerful book, Paul Eder along with a featured Firestarter, David Egan who is an advocate for special needs.  This week, I am sharing more on these interviews about being FIRESTARTERS!

Firestarters

David Egan is the first person with an intellectual disability to be awarded a Joseph P. Kennedy JR. Public Policy Fellowship, he made history by working on Capitol Hill with the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee.  David Egan, born with Down syndrome, is a trailblazer for others who have intellectual disabilities.

David Egan-Advocate Photo

He believes in promoting the idea of people with disabilities having special talents.  David states that people with intellectual disabilities should be included in as many sectors of our society as possible, and being featured as a leader in this book makes made him proud.  The most important part of his advocacy is to demonstrate that people like himself are Valued, Able, and Ready to work.

David Egan Work Photo         David Egan swimming

“We are citizens that matter and we belong in our community.” -David Egan

David-Egan-Capitol-Hill-2011

“People with intellectual disabilities do not want pity; we want respect, inclusion, and the opportunity to reach our full potential like any other citizen.” -David Egan

Paul Eder is the co-author of Firestarters along with Raoul Davis JR. and Kathy Palokoff.  From early on, Paul Eder wanted the book to be inclusive.  He has a 6-year old son, Brady who has Down syndrome and believes his potential is limitless.  Paul says that a Firestarter is partially defined by the impact you have on others. His son, Brady has certainly impacted his life.  Paul hopes his son’s achievements go beyond and push the boundaries like David Egan.

I asked Paul how he plans to use the concept of Firestarters to help navigate his son through school and working with IEP team members? 

Paul said that, “The IEP (Individualized Education Plan),  generally taps into a number of the concepts we discuss in the Firestarters book, but the section on Accelerants is very relevant. Accelerants include: Mission-focused behavior, Cooperation, Constructive competition, sweat equity (working hard), and support seeking.”

Paul goes on to further state this about IEP’s:

“An IEP certainly focuses on the mission surrounding your child’s educational path. From a cooperation perspective, the IEP defies all the supporting partnerships that are necessary to propel his success.  All of the IEP goals are measurable, which gives it a competitive flair. We want the goals to be challenging but not impossible, and we want to be able to compare his progress against some standard of success (e.g., grade-level expectations). My son has a daily behavior log where his social and academic behaviors are tracked. From this sheet, we are able to tell whether he is putting in his full effort and devoting the sweat equity needed to learn. Support-seeking is an obvious one.”

“The IEP team is a support structure in itself.  As parents, we can’t be afraid to ask the questions needed of the team and push for the supports required to ensure his success.” -Paul Eder

I asked Paul how can someone support the Firestarters in their lives, especially those with potential but who may have special needs?

In the book we define 4 types of supporters based on the research we conducted:

1.Nurturers listen and help you follow through with your ideas.
2.Motivators get you moving. They are people like Tony Robbins who exude an energy that make you want to be a better person.
3.Illuminators are the teachers in your life who help you grow socially and intellectually.
4.Protectors are the people who defend you when others won’t.

A FIRESTARTER, seeks support to fan their flame, and finds ways to limit the influence of Extinguishers.

As we begin 2018, what do you want to accomplish?  Find the people who can support you and don’t allow the extinguishers to have power over your life.  We’ve all met FIRESTARTERS, and seen what they’ve accomplished.  They create, disrupt and start things.  The book FIRESTARTERS  interviewed successful entrepreneurs, CEO’s, organizational leaders, advocates and forward thinkers from a variety of professions to find out what makes them tick.  There are step by step guides to teach you how to join the ranks in whatever you want to accomplish.

For more information about FIRESTARTERS click here: https://goo.gl/4VmHKo

Thank you to Paul Eder and David Egan for sharing your inspiring stories of being FIRESTARTERS, who make the world a better place!  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Government/Legal Matters Related to Special Needs

Blog #194~ Firestarters

Blog #194~ Firestarters

What is the difference between those bold enough to pursue their dreams and others who never get comfortable enough to ignite their lives? The doers are “Firestarters” and, because of them, the world is a much different, and often, better place.

Recently, one of the co-authors of a new and powerfully motivating book, Paul Eder reached out to me to do an exclusive interview about Firestarters- How Innovators, Instigators and Initiators Can Inspire You To Ignite Your Life.

Firestarters

There is a big difference between people who MAKE things happen and those who only THINK about making an impact.  So many people have dreams, yet few are willing to take action.  The authors of Firestarters set out to find the “secret sauce” providing pragmatic advice for readers to ignite the qualities from successful entrepreneurs, CEO’s, organizational leaders, advocates and forward thinkers from a variety of professions.  Co-Authors Raoul Davis JR., Kathy Palokoff and Paul Eder did extensive research interviewing and studying hundreds of people who have all been a catalyst for change.

In my interview with co-author Paul Eder, he states that a Firestarter is someone who makes an impact, someone who presses forward in the face of challenges that would cause others to run the other way.

There are 3 types of Firestarters in the book:

*Innovators create things.

*Instigators disrupt things.

*Initiators start things.

All three types are bonded together by the great impact they have on other people and the world by creating, disrupting and starting things.  So, how do you know if you’re an Innovator, Instigator, or an Initiator?  The book provides a quiz that you can take, but the short answer is to investigate both what motivates you and how you interact with others.

*Do you like to explore new ideas for the sake of exploring them? Do you come up with your own pet theories of how the world works? You may be an Innovator.

*Do others always call you out for debating too much? Do you strive to be different and do things in a way no one has done? You may an Instigator.

*Are you constantly moving? Do you have the energy of 10 thoroughbreds and need to sleep only 4 hours a night to be fully effective? You may be an Initiator.

Firestarters aren’t constrained to one type. Different situations may require you to act more like an Innovator. Others require you to be an Initiator and just get things done. Firestarters are amazing in that they are flexible to tap into all three types as needed – when most people would be more likely to stick to their default type, according to Paul.

From early on, Paul Eder wanted the book to be inclusive. He has a 6-year old son, Brady who has Down syndrome and believes his potential is limitless.  The Firestarters concept  applies to CEOs of mega corporations as well as PTA moms. There are interviews John Sculley, a former CEO of Apple and present his profile at a similar level of prominence of David Egan, who has Down syndrome and is a self-advocate who has single-handedly re-defined the perceived capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

David Egan is the first person with an intellectual disability to be awarded a Joseph P. Kennedy JR. Public Policy Fellowship, he made history by working on Capitol Hill with the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee.

David-Egan-Capitol-Hill-2011

In my interview with David Egan, he showed great passion about being an advocate with an ongoing commitment that never ends. His dream is to help people with intellectual disabilities.  All of his jobs and activities have been very important. However, being  selected as the first person with intellectual disabilities to serve as a JP Kennedy JR. Public Policy fellow was an honor and a breakthrough.  Previous fellows were doctors, professors, parents, educators or with physical disabilities but David made history and is proud to follow in the vision of Eunice Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics. She believed that we belong and we have the same rights as any other citizen.

Paul Eder feels his 6-year old son Brady, who has Down syndrome will follow the path forged by David Egan, in not allowing a label to define his future. A diagnosis is not a destiny.  Down syndrome isn’t a determinant of his son’s potential.  This is a powerful message on never setting limits!  This message has resonated with me for the past 23 years in raising my son, Nick- who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

Next week, I will share more of my interviews with Paul and David with their great insights on being a Firestarter.  Here is a review of this book from Forbes magazine: https://goo.gl/eznjQx  If you are looking for a way to set your goals in motion and take action for 2018, I highly suggest reading Firestarters!  

This book will be released tomorrow, January 9th, click here to learn more: 

https://goo.gl/4VmHKo

Fire

Is this the year you are going to MAKE things happen, or just think about it?  What things or people threaten to extinguish your fire?  Set your goals and be a Firestarter, that’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome

Blog #193~CNN Hero of the Year 2017: Amy Wright of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee

Blog #193~CNN Hero of the Year: Amy Wright of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee

bitty and beau coffee shop

Last night Anderson Cooper and Kelli Ripa presented the CNN Hero of the Year 2017 award to Amy Wright, who founded Bitty & Beau’s Coffee.  Inspired by her two youngest children, Bitty and Beau, who have Down syndrome, she set out to empower and advocate for people having disabilities by providing meaningful employment.  Amy Wright is the founder and CEO of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee which employs 40 individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities ranging from Down syndrome to autism to cerebral palsy.

bitty and beau three

It’s more than a coffee shop…”Bitty and Beau’s Coffee creates a culture where diversity is not just appreciated, its celebrated.”

CNN Heroes is a television special created by CNN to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities.  Amy Wright started a grass-roots movement, opening up Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, which is located in Wilmington, NC.  National statistics have shown that 70% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed.  Her mission is to provide purposeful jobs that bring the community together, and helps people with and without disabilities to spend time together.

2498202_Beaut_26

Congratulations to Amy Wright, CNN Hero of the Year 2017 for creating a culture of inclusion and putting 40 individuals with disabilities to work! With the award, she will receive $100,000 from CNN to grow her cause.

CNN Heroes .jpg

Amy finished her acceptance speech with these powerful words to her children Bitty and Beau who were watching the show at home:

“I would not change you for the world, but I will change the world for you.”

Her powerful statement promotes acceptance and inclusion which I find inspiring.  Bravo to you, Amy Wright and Bitty & Beau’s Coffee for making a difference.

For more information visit the website and social media links: https://www.bittyandbeauscoffee.com/about/our-story/  Follow Bitty & Beau‘s Coffee on Facebook and Instagram!

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow my son Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down syndrome With a Slice of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

https://www.bittyandbeauscoffee.com/about/our-story/

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #192~Down syndrome-Autism: Green Monday Gift Ideas

Blog #192~Down syndrome-Autism:Green Monday Gift Ideas

green-monday

It’s green Monday and just two weeks until Christmas.  Here are some gift ideas for individuals having Down syndrome (or a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, or other special needs) along with their caregivers, teachers/aids, and therapists.

http://papercloudsapparel.com/  Order T-shirts, hats and totes designed by artists with special needs

My son Nick, wearing a Paper Clouds Apparel shirt designed by Justin Lundeen…

nick fire truck shirt

https://www.riverbendgalleries.com/  Features the beautiful photography of artist, Geoffrey Mikol prints, framed art, calendars, coaster sets and greeting cards are available for purchase online….

Geoffrey Mikol picture    Geoffrey Mikol

http://specialsparkle.com Kelly is a young entrepreneur who has Down syndrome.  She designs and makes fashionable jewelry you can order online….

special sparkle jewelry

http://www.christianroyalpottery.com/pages/about  Beautiful pottery (bowls, platters, plates, jewelry) by Christian Royal…..

 

 

One of the best gifts is an iPad and there are countless apps for learning and play.  If you are looking for a sturdy case, the Go Talk Rugged and Big Grip cases have held up the best…..  

 

If your child has sensory needs, and likes to do a lot of dropping, check out these toys:

vortx-dropping-coins  marble racemagic-tracks-mega-set-360-piece--A817AA38.zoom

Gifts ideas in located in the archives, type this in the search box: Blog #131~Christmas Ideas for a Child With Special Needs…..

 

Gift ideas for babies and toddlers with Down syndrome: http://www.cedarsstory.com/?s=Best+Gift+Ideas

Noah’s Dad- Down syndrome Awareness Top 10 gifts for a 7 year old: http://noahsdad.com/7-year-old-gift-ideas/

Books for caregivers and families, here are a few suggestions and there are more listed in this Blog #144~ Inspiring Books Related to Down syndrome located in the archives……

 

Gifts book cover    Book An Uncomplicated Life  down syndrome and autism intersect

Please feel free to share this, and any of my blogs with others and on social media.  Also, check out my Pinterest page for more gift recommendations and other helpful information. Do you have any gift suggestions? I’m always looking for unique gift ideas related to Down syndrome and autism to post on my website.  Nick and I wish you all the best as you are preparing to enjoy the holiday season.

That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂

~Teresa

Follow Nick on Social Media:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

Posted in Adult Day Programs for Special Needs, Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Fall Update: Nick DS-ASD

Fall Update: Nick DS-ASD

Time flies when you are having fun, and Nick is having a blast this fall.  My son, Nick is 23 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.  He attends an adult day program which provides a wide variety of activities.  Community outings this fall included volunteer jobs, bowling, visits to local parks, fire station, grocery shopping and going out to eat.  His group also works in-house doing gardening, cooking, skill along with communication building using their Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Nick uses a program called Touch Chat on an iPad for communication.

Nick cooking at his day program…..

Nick cooking meatballs

Nick was very excited to visit the fire station 🙂  He wasted no time buckling up right away….

Nick fire truck

Outside his adult day program, Nick enjoys community visits to the library, mall, parks, shopping, the movies and eating out.  He continues to have “date nights” meeting up with his buddy, Christopher.  We are very grateful to have such caring respite workers, to take him out several times each week.

Fun at the Halloween Store…..

Nick crown

Buddy Up Tennis, see Blog #190 to read all about it @https://nickspecialneeds.com/?s=buddy+up

Nick buddy tennis 2

Nick relaxing at the library.  Make yourself at home there, Big Guy….. 🙂

Nick library

That’s Nick’s world and update for this fall.  I would like to take a moment to thank our respite workers, Lara, Jodi and Kelsey for all they do for Nick and our family.  My son has a full and rich life, and we are grateful to have these supports in place to make this possible.

That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂

~Teresa 🙂

Want to see more pictures of Nick?  We have a lot more on social media:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #191~Challenging Behaviors: Why is My Child Acting This Way?

Blog #191~Challenging Behaviors: Why is My Child Acting This Way?

behavior

Parents raising a child with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism experience challenging behaviors from their children.  A long holiday weekend can heighten these behaviors with changes in routine and family gatherings.  A child may feel lost in the mix and in need of attention.  They may also experience sensory overload.  These can be shown in a variety of ways, such as increased self-stimulatory/ repetitive behaviors (hand flapping, tapping, turning on water faucets, pushing buttons, shutting or slamming doors),  self-injury (head banging, biting, slapping self), attacking others and property destruction to name a few.  This week I want to focus on WHY a child may be acting out.  When you understand why this might be happening, you can put a better plan in place, in order to support your child.

The first step is to determine what the behavior means.  All behavior is communicating something.  This is where you have to do some detective work.

Detective-clipart-animation-free-images-2

Keeping a log of behaviors is a great tool to determine what purpose this is serving your child.  It’s helpful to use a Functional Behavior Assessment Form, such as this to gather data:

Functional Behavior Assessment

Data collection will assist you at home and the school IEP team on the who, what, where, when and why’s of the behavior.  What is this behavior trying to communicate?  What need is being expressed through these behaviors?  Is there a pattern of when these behaviors are occurring and what is triggering them?

Ultimately the Functional Behavior Assessment, (also known as a FBA) will reveal what the purpose this behavior serves for the child.  

Let’s put this to use with two behaviors often associated with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism:

*Self-stimulatory or Repetitive Behaviors

*Injurious Behaviors

In the case of self-stimulatory or repetitive behaviors, a child may:

  1. Need more stimulation
  2. Be trying to masking sensory overload
  3. Be upset, anxious or not busy enough

Observe your child, and maybe even try the behavior yourself in order to get an idea of why they are attracted to it.  Repetitive behaviors are often sensory based.  They help to calm and organize the nervous system by releasing stress chemicals.  This in turn can help to reduce anxiety.

My son, Nick is 23 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.  He often uses tappers to help regulate his sensory needs.  Here he is at his adult day program:

Nick tappers AID

Bottom line, it’s important to respect these sensory needs and allow your child to have this time during the day.  Find a balance in building in these sensory breaks without letting them take over completely.  Self-stimulatory and repetitive behaviors should not  get in the way of learning, or in work jobs.  Keep in mind, especially around the holidays as you get busy with wrapping presents, cooking and cleaning the house that your child may be bored and feeling ignored.  It is necessary to provide some structured activities to reduce these behaviors.  I like to give my son jobs so he feels helpful, and rewarded for his appropriate behavior with lots of praise.  While I was getting the house ready for Thanksgiving, I had Nick vacuum for me, a job he enjoys doing.  It provides him with good sensory input using heavy work, which can be calming…

Nick vacumme thanksgiving

In the case of injurious behaviors a child may:

  1. Bang head, bite, slap themselves, attack others or destroy property
  2. Be frustrated, angry, experiencing discomfort, pain or sensory overload
  3. Communicate escaping and avoiding an unwanted task or event

Again, the Functional Behavior Assessment chart can help to determine if there is a certain activity, event or time of day which causes these behaviors to escalate.  As the detective, you want to uncover these triggers.  When you figure out these triggers, you can put supports in place to in essence, cut it off at the pass before your child goes into a full-blown meltdown.

Example- Family trip to the shopping mall:

The stimulus overload, especially around the holidays with added crowds,  more kiosks, noises, lights, and may be too much for a child with autism.  You many need to keep the trip short and provide visuals supports to help your child understand the sequence of events that will happen.

Task Strip for shopping mall trip….

task strip mall

Along with a visual schedule, you want to keep your eye open to any distress signals the child may exhibit in their body language.  My son will tend to pinch his cheeks when he is upset or stomp and say, “I’m mad”.  These signs are a cue to back off and lower the demands you are placing on your child.

In summation, you can support your child and prevent these injurious behaviors by:

  1. Recognizing distress signals and re-direct your child.
  2. Lowering or pulling away the demands that have been placed and causing your child to feel overwhelmed.
  3. Providing visual supports with task strips so they know the sequence of events.
  4. Teaching alternative ways to escape and unwanted situation by using visual supports with icons such as, “Stop” “Help” “All Done” and “I Need A Break”:Break Icon
  5. Practice teaching appropriate ways to protest separately in mild stress situations. Use the icons above either with visuals or on a communication device using lots of praise.

Understanding the function of your child’s behavior and creating an environment to support them will lead to success in both home, school and in the community.  If your child has challenging behaviors, seek the help of a trained autism behavior specialist.  You should request that a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) be done.  Once this data is collected, a Behavior Support Plan (also known as a BSP) can be created and put in the IEP.   You and the school IEP team can brainstorm on what supports to put in place to help your child better succeed and express themselves more appropriately.

That’s what is in my noggin this week 🙂

~Teresa

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Blog #190~Nick & Buddy Up Tennis

Blog #190~ Nick & Buddy Up Tennis

I took my son Nick, to the Buddy Up Tennis program over the weekend.  Buddy Up Tennis is a high-energy, adaptive tennis and fitness program for children and young adults with Down syndrome.  They provide fun and rewarding 90-minute clinics on a weekly basis.  The program currently serves 550 individuals ages five to young adults with Down syndrome across the country.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure how cooperative Nick would be given that he has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.  I am happy to report that he participated and followed directions fairly well, for his first time out.

Nick buddy tennis 2

This 90 minute Buddy Up Tennis-Naperville clinic, is held at Five Star Tennis Center.  Athletes are paired with a buddy and start off with a warm up.  Each participant gets to toss the dice and perform a variety of calisthenic exercises like toe touches, push-ups, jumping jacks and sit ups.  Nick needed some prompting on these.  I had to laugh when everyone got down to do push ups and Nick was still standing.  Then about the time he got down on all fours, the rest of the group was up doing jumping jacks. 🙂

fitness dice                Buddy Up Tennis Logo

After the warm-up, the participants break up into groups.  The younger kids use modified equipment and balls on a separate court.  The teens and young adults move to circuit training.  Stations are set up focus on balance, agility, hand-eye coordination and upper body movements that mimic tennis strokes and serves.

Nick navigated each station with prompts, praise and elbow bumps, from his buddies and coaches.  He moved at a slower pace than his peers, and there were a few stations he was less interested in.  But overall, did a good job!

Nick Buddy Tennis balance

After circuit training, the athletes worked on volleys and ground strokes.  Nick needed more prompting and hand over hand assistance, to move through these drills.  But he remained patient and compliant.  It really helped to have a peer partner and the coaches cheering him on, as well as the other athletes modeling appropriate behavior.

Nick buddy tennis

Towards the end of the clinic, Nick did begin to lose interest in hitting tennis balls.  I grabbed a ball hopper, and he and his peer buddy collected balls.  Nick is good at putting things away, so this kept him perked him up and engaged.  For the last 10 minutes, all the groups come together, and play a few rounds of duck, duck, goose. Then, the coaches present certificates to the top awesome athletes for that week.  Nick was awarded one of these for working hard.  Yay Big Guy! 🙂

Overall, I feel the experience was a success for Nick.  I was a little nervous going in, because he can be loud and distracting with the stimming behaviors associated with autism.  However, these behaviors were quite diminished during the clinic.  It reminded me of when Nick was in a full inclusion classroom, when we first moved into the Chicago area, 15 years ago.  Positive peer role models is one of the benefits of placing your child in full inclusion classroom.  When Nick was in a full inclusion classroom, the loud noises, tapping and other stimming decreased.  That alone, makes it worthwhile to enroll him in the next session coming up in January.

I plan on making a few visuals of the calisthenic exercises, circuit stations and sequence of moving through the drills will help with transitioning.  For individuals with autism, it helps to have a picture schedule to assist them in understanding what is expected of them.  If they can see it, they can better understand it.

Buddy Up Tennis is a wonderful program, and I’d like to thank the coaches and volunteers for the opportunity to have Nick be a part of group.  For more information about Buddy Up Tennis, visit their website at http://buddyuptennis.com/

That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂

~Teresa

Follow Nick:

Facebook & Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Blog #189~Buddy Up Tennis

Blog #189~Buddy Up Tennis

Buddy Up Tennis Logo

I had the pleasure of observing the Buddy Up Tennis program over the past weekend. Buddy Up Tennis is a high-energy, adaptive tennis and fitness program for children and young adults with Down syndrome.  They provide fun and rewarding 90-minute clinics on a weekly basis.  The program currently serves 550 individuals ages five to young adults with Down syndrome across the country.

The program I visited was Buddy Up Tennis Naperville in Illinois, located at Five Star Tennis Center.  Athletes are divided into 3 groups according to age and ability.  They kick off the morning with a warmup and fitness component.  Each participant is paired with a volunteer buddy.  Everyone gets a chance to throw the dice and perform a variety of exercises together like toe touches, arm circles, sit-ups, jumping jacks and push-ups.

fitness dice

After the warm-up and calisthenics, the participants move to circuit training.  Stations are set up focus on balance, agility, hand-eye coordination and upper body movements that mimic tennis strokes and serves.

Balance Work Stations…..

Buddy Up Balance

The tennis serve motion is mimicked by throwing a football through the hoops.  Balls are thrown from the hip on both sides of the body into a basket to work on the forehand and backhand movements……

Buddy Up Hoops

Other stations include using an agility ladder, cones, balance beam and tug of war.  All of these work on each component of fitness, as related to playing tennis.

Following the fitness segment, the groups work on tennis strokes and games.  The younger players used smaller nets and foam transition balls which are easier to hit.

gamma-tennis-revolution-ball.jpg

The player’s ages 10 and up, worked on forehand and backhand volleys.  Coaches use the cues,  “Squash the bug”, No swinging” and “High five it” to teach proper form on volleys.  The athletes had fun trying to win a prize by hitting a target on the court.  After volleys, the group worked on overheads, with the coaches using cues like, “Point the left arm to the ball, and hit the ball at the highest point”.

It was wonderful to see the players working hard and enjoying the experience with their fellow teammates, buddies, and coaches.  The staff and volunteers were so encouraging and positive.  There were lots of high fives, smiles, cheering and laughter.  Buddy Up Tennis helps players build fitness, tennis skills, friendships, and cooperation.  These life skills are valuable both on and off the court.

For more information about Buddy Up Tennis visit their website: http://buddyuptennis.com/

tennis racket

I highly recommend this program and look forward to taking my son, Nick next week.  That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

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Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

Blog #188~Down syndrome Awareness Month-5 Takeaways

Blog #188~Down syndrome Awareness Month-5 Takeaways

DSAwarenessMagnet

As October and Down syndrome Awareness Month, comes to an end, I want to leave you with 5 things takeaways to keep in mind, and share with others about Down syndrome!

1. Babies with Down syndrome have low muscle tone (know as Hypotonia).  This effects motor and oral motor development.  It will take them a little longer to talk, walk, and eat the same foods as others.  Early intervention with physical, occupational and speech therapy play a big part in growth and progress in these milestones.

2. People with Down syndrome aren’t ‘always happy’.  They have feelings just like everyone else.

3. People with Down syndrome will share some common features.  A few of these include low muscle tone, smaller in stature, almond-shaped eyes, tiny white (Brushfield) spots in the iris, a crease running in the palm of their hand, a gap between big and second toe.  But they will more closely resemble their immediate family members.

My son, Nick has low muscle tone.  We propped him in the high chair supported by pillows…..

nick-low-tone-high-chair

4. People with Down syndrome can’t be ”more Downs’ than another.  As with everyone else, each person with Down syndrome has their own strengths, weaknesses, talents and abilities.

Nick loves swimming and even tried scuba diving.  He also has many jobs both at home and in his adult day program he attends……..

Diveheart 2013 336     Nick cleaning GiGi's

5. Please use ‘people first’ language, a person has or with Down syndrome. NOT a Down’s child or the Down syndrome kid. Down syndrome does not define who they are!

Actor and advocate, Chris Burke…..

Chris Burke quote

Spreading awareness and information helps others to become more understanding and accepting of individuals with Down syndrome, and their contributions to society.  That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa 🙂

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