Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Fun Side of Nick

Blog # 10 Nano Second!

Last Friday, Nick and I celebrated the end of school with a trip his favorite eatery, Taco Bell.  I like the one off 75th street in Naperville because there are no fire alarms in site for him to grab.  Yes, Nick has an obsession with fire alarms.  Since 3rd grade he has pulled 25 of them total.  For the record he has only got me twice and it only took a nanosecond!  Nick is always looking for the opening, that one moment when you aren’t paying attention.  That is the instant when he will strike.  The first fire alarm pull on my watch happened as I was fumbling to get my keys out of my purse.  He lunged across my body and clawed at the alarm before I could even try to block him.  Yes he’s that fast!

The object of his envy…..

So back to Friday lunch, I was glancing at the menu board to find something remotely low calorie when Nick grabbed a set of keys that a man in front of us had set down on the counter next to his newspaper.  Just before he pushed the red panic button on the remote I scooped them up.  Mom 1, Nick 0!

If you are around Nick for any given period of time you develop razor sharp reflexes. Let me put a lens on this. Here is a series of encounters that happened just this week.  On Sunday, my husband Al left Nick inside while he rolled up the hose reel. In merely two minutes he came back into the kitchen where Nick had wildly ransacked the refrigerator leaving the door wide open.  He had pulled out several things including two bottles of salad dressing.  The ranch dressing rested on the island with the cap off and was only spared because it was nearly empty.  Clearly, that wasn’t satisfying enough. But the full bottle of Asian Sesame was wrapped between his hands, turned upside down while he stood there choking it like a chicken as the rose colored liquid drained onto the floor.  Nick 1, Al 0!

A few days later while rolling the garbage cans halfway down the driveway Nick thought it would be funny to push the garage door button (again with the buttons!)  I stopped short in my tracks sprinted back and ducked under with my heart pounding just before I got locked out of the house.  I won that round, barely!

On Thursday we had a nice visit with Rob, a former teacher/respite worker.  Incidentally, Rob carries the esteemed title of being #20 on the fire alarm pulls.  About halfway through our visit I began to hear the sound of running water from upstairs.  Moments later the pitter patter of Nick’s footsteps followed by what I can only describe as a dastardly laugh  as the vein popped out of his forehead.   Clearly he was delighted. Rob offered to go upstairs and see what was going on.  As he came around the corner back into the kitchen he stood there holding his flip flops which he had politely left by the front door. They were dripping wet!

Nick and Rob….

Oh and let me not fail to mention that Hank left his bathroom door unlocked. I had just mopped the floor…. Cue the sound of the glug, glug….glug of Crest Fluoride rinse spilling over the banister.

A few hours later… as I put the finishing touches on the master calendar…. I might have left my pen out while I put of load of clothes in the dryer….uh oh…Nick inserted his intents…

Which brings me to Saturday, what more can he possibly do?  Nick is crafty and as I mentioned before he is always looking to find your weak point.  On this particular morning I was trying to get ready to go teach a step aerobics class.  While upstairs getting ready, Nick was in the kitchen pushing the popcorn button on the microwave followed by the intercom button on the phone.  A few minutes later in the midst of putting on my lycra spandex he made a nice Jackson Pollack design using toothpaste which he squirted in a swirling and splattered pattern from the second floor….(yes, the usually dumping spot, I am thinking of putting a plastic baby pool down any day now.) Thinking that I was staying one step ahead of him I carried my coffee with me into the closet while I changed.  However I accidentally left the mug there as I went back into the bathroom and bam, that is when he emptied it out onto the collar of my warm up jacket.  Nick 4, Mom 0….

This is going to be a long summer!

Even with the cabinet door locks back on he still manages to find ways to dump.  His goal is always trying to get our goat (see blog # 3 for more of Nick’s shenanigans.) He is *nano second fast and he will get you. I would love to hear any fun stories you have of Nick pulling one on you.  Send me your experiences with Nick and I will write a follow piece with all of your perspectives. Please e-mail your encounters with Nick to

There are no lessons to be learned or wise words to offer this week, except to say that I know better. I should have found something for him to do while I was busy in my realm.  So this week I simply want to offer a slice into Nick’s world….the rest of us is just trying to keep up.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.  Until next Monday, may you be on point and razor sharp as you take on the week ahead.

~Teresa 🙂

* Nano Second according to is One billionth of a second. Used to measure the speed of logic and memory chips, a nanosecond can be visualized by converting it to distance. In one nanosecond, electricity travels approximately a foot in a wire. Admiral Grace Hopper was famous for handing out strands of “telephone wire nanoseconds” to her audience whenever she lectured about technology. Holding the wire turns the unreal concept of a billionth of a second into reality.


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

6 thoughts on “Blog # 10 Nano Second!

  1. Phillip and I still enjoy telling the story of the orbital TV remote soaring over the bannister in Galveston. You’re right he’s quick!

  2. I think Nick and Cole would be great friends. Nick can empty liquids off the balcony and Cole can empty the contents of his room over the balcony (one of Cole’s favorite past times)

  3. How nice to know that I was in on the beginning of Nick’s obsession with fire alarms. I feel honored. Everytime a fire alarm is pulled the fire department has to respond. They always seem to come even quicker when it is an alarm from a school. At one of the first “events” the fire chief came in the office in full gear only to be told it was a false alarm pulled by a student. He had a very angry face when he stated, “Does that child know he can be fined about $500 for pulling a false alarm?” The angry face turned to one of confussion when everyone in the office burst into laughing.

    1. Yes, Sylvia you were on the ground floor when this all started with the fire alarms. I can still remember 3 times that first week he ever pulled one. Wish I could have been there when you all were busting out with laughter in the office, priceless.

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