Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Down syndrome

Blog #1~ Spring, Nick and Me

Blog #1~ Spring, Nick and Me

Spring is in the air, glorious pink and white blooms opening up in the pear and cherry trees as a green canvas spreads across the yard.  Last week, I watched the Robins take flight with twigs in their beaks to prepare their nests.  The symphony has begun as they sing. It’s been at least four years since I got up into the crawl space to dig out the Easter tote. This year I decided to set up the Easter village.  I carefully opened each delicate piece out its cocoon of bubble wrap and set it up in the formal living room.  As I placed the pastel, porcelain pieces on the table, there is a sudden crashing sound coming from the kitchen.

“Uh oh, Nick not nice,” he says, standing there grinning at the imploded Emu egg he dug out of the tote and smashed on the ground.  I make no eye contact, simply hand him the kitchen trash can and tell him to clean up.  Everyday something gets dumped on the ground or dropped in the toilet.  Better a hollowed out green Emu egg. The day before, it was his iPod touch which he plunged into the toilet.  That’s his shtick these days.  Trying to grab my attention with that grin on his face as if to say, look what I just did?  I have some control of my life.

This grin says, “I’ve been up to no good.” 🙂

Control, isn’t that something we all want?  I get what Nick needs to feel. Down syndrome and autism has left his speech very limited.   When he pushes intercom to make the phone beep along with the popcorn button on the microwave and flips the light switch on and off multitudes of times he wields power. After all, every behavior, even a bad behavior is trying to communicate something. I give him chores such as emptying the dishwasher, and loading the washing machine.  He is so happy to help and proud (not your typical teenager in that respect.)  But in the down times, usually when I am trying to get something done, that’s when he strikes. You name it he has probably emptied it out or chucked it. More on this later as the dump list and buttons he pushes are way too long for this piece.

Here’s a tease….Special preview of a blog to come soon……

Uh oh, woopsie” as Nick would say!

I walked back to finish the Easter village.  Tada…..It is perfection.

That’s my boys Hank and Nick in the background 🙂

I love this space with its warm tones and pristine furniture.  It looks like a room in a model home.  It is the first room you see when you walk in the front door.  The carpet is still in good shape and I love it after the cleaning people come in and leave the vacuum mark prints in linear fashion like the grass at U.S. Cellular Field ballpark.  This room, untouched is close to perfection and where I feel I have some control in my life.

It’s just an illusion because once you move past it expect to enter chaos.  You see Nick is fast and he can grab a coffee mug and knock it to the floor in a nano second. Both my  peripheral vision and reflexes have improved significantly thanks to Nick!  Today, it’s not just Nick and the Emu egg and coffee mug but also a line of carpenter ants marching along the patio door and the guttural sounds of our bulimic cat, Miss Mellie. There she goes again letting out her high pitch meow and contorting her neck.  I sprint into the living room and scoop her up before she heaves all over the carpet.  Swiftly, I toss her into the bathroom and shut the pocket door.  Better to clean up the wood floor than carpet any day.

Speaking of looking oh so innocent…..Miss Mellie is purrr-fect….

Purrrr-haps I will keep putting up with her cat barfing.

Later that evening while Nick is content watching a movie, I do a quick check on Facebook to see my older son Hank who started college last fall, has just updated his status.  “I never realized how many hot girls go to Northern until the warm weather rolled in.  Here’s to booty shorts!’  I had to laugh and hit the “like” button. Looks like the girls have come out of hibernation.  I guess that is yet another sign of spring and something I have no control over. That’s what is in my noggin, until next week I hope you enjoy these first signs of spring!



Teresa is the Author of "A New Course: A Mother's Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism" and the mother of two boys. Her youngest son, Nick is 29 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). Teresa's passion is helping others understand and navigate co-occurring Down syndrome and autism. She is a DS-ASD consultant, advocate, speaker, and author. Follow Nick's world on Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism and on Twitter @tjunnerstall. For more information and media links, visit

10 thoughts on “Blog #1~ Spring, Nick and Me

  1. i knew YOU were special the very day i bumped into YOU on the “drag” UT campus…. wishing we weren’t so far from each other now. oh the trouble Nick and i could get into! 🙂 this is beautiful T and so are you. love, pook

  2. I am so proud of you, my big Sis. I’m just about to burst. I can barely read my typing because I’m so darn misty. You have always been my hero, and now the world knows why. I might need a tissue now…I love you ! Whoa

  3. Hi Theresa,
    I am Rosemary Ryan, mother of Kevin Ryan who is 52 and has Down Syndrome. Tom and I are friends of Jim and Theresa and they have told us about your family. I read your blog with great interest. Keep it up as we will love to follow it as you go. Hang in there. I’m glad to see you have a good sense of humor. It helps.

    1. Hi Rosemary,
      I know your son, Kevin from the church when we have visited our in-laws. He is a great guy, real asset to the community. You and Tom should be very proud. Yes, a good sense of humor does help for sure. Look forward to hearing from you again.

  4. Theresa,
    It is about 4 am in the morning and I am having a rare, very rare attack of insomnia. I spent some time writing and then checked my fb page. What a wonderful blog you have written. I was right there in your world, sharing your experience. How awesome! I feel privileged to know you and to get to know your world better. Bright Blessings and keep up the great task!

  5. I tried recording Mellie vomiting to send to Tosh.O….I miss the look on Nick’s face when she starts her purge noises

    1. Yes Rob, that moment with my bulimic cat, Mellie would have been priceless to catch on film. What a world here with her and Nick is so funny when he sees her go at it.

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