Posted in Fun Side of Nick

Blog #42~Love, Nick Style

Blog #42~ Love, Nick Style

Last week over Valentine’s Day I got to thinking about the ways in which Nick shows love, affection and compassion.  How can a person having both Down syndrome and autism do so without being able to use many words?  I threw the question out there to those who are closest to him.  I found some interesting responses along with a few similar, underlying themes about love, Nick style.

love america style

What a great show bordering on naughty for the 1970’s.  Anybody remember it? It was must see TV! 🙂

What is love?  According to Wikipedia, Love is an emotion of a strong affection and personal attachment.[1] Love is also said to be a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection —”the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”.[2] Love may describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one’s self or animals.[3]

The famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. 1884 painting by Frank Bernard Dicksee. Courtesy of Wikipedia.….

RomeoandJuliet pic

As Nick’s mom, I feel his love freely with the kisses he gives me.  They are cute little pecks on my cheek or sometimes on my shoulder.  He gives those to his Dad and brother and even the cat sometimes. I see it in his eyes that gleam when he is happy.  I sense it when he offers up his neck for me to blow him some raspberries.  I know it when I come home from a long evening out and the icon strip has my picture on it. I see this time again with the picture icons.  He will hand me one with his Dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brother, teachers and former respite workers like Jess and Mr. T.  I know he misses them and wants to see them.  The day after my father passed away, he handed me the picture of my Dad on a gloomy, snowy morning in October.  I held it and gave him a hug.  As I looked out the window fighting back tears the sun’s rays began to peek out behind the clouds.

sun rays

Al’s parents noticed this too.  Here is what Jim and Theresa U. had to say about how Nick shows love. One thing comes to mind that, I think, is pretty specific.  I think when he puts his “icon” on your shoulder or lap, or wherever, it shows that he has trust that you will listen to his request for whatever the icon shows.  I also think that the fact he even picks us out in a crowd indicates that he likes us and knows that we like him too and are willing to honor his request.  It is a way of getting our attention and showing affection. I think “high-fives” and hugs are a definite sign of affection.  Also, he loves to be “kissed” on the side of his neck, too!  It’s really not a kiss that he wants but he does come to you for some affection… his own way.”

Nick with Gma Theresa…..


Nick’s teacher, Daina Hunt had some interesting insights from the school setting…

“I think Nick has many ways in which he shows his feelings of love, affection, and compassion.  Physically, he does a great job by sharing elbows, rubbing noses, high fives, etc. I think that Nick is very affectionate with adults with whom he has built strong relationships. I also feel like Nick’s sense of humor is something that he shares with those he is close to.   

I’ve also seen Nick have a “crush” on another student this year.  He often picks her when he has to take turns and often watches to see what is going on with her when we are in the classroom.  When she becomes upset, Nick will quickly look to her and raise his voice in protest too.  Now, I understand that Nick is not a fan of noise made by others, but his reaction to this student is unique.   

I’ve seen Nick’s compassion extend even farther to others.  He is good at mimicking others emotions, and pointing out emotions (think about the sad egg t-shirt). He also has a genuine side of compassion.  I have had staff tell me that Nick has cried after watching others cry. 

From my own personal experience, I can say nothing is better than when Nick asks for a raspberry, nose, or elbow.  The raspberries and noses may not be totally age appropriate, but it rocks to know he cares enough to share one with me.” 🙂 

The infamous “egg shirt”…….poor egg is so sad… 😦

photo (115)

Yes, Nick does like to bond with those he loves by offering his neck up to get some raspberries.  Aunt Ali had this to say, “We know how Nick and I bond with our hellos full of raspberries!!!  He enjoys receiving as many as I can give!  His tender hand touch is always there to say “hi” when we are together and hanging out.”   My friend KB agrees,I just wanted to lip blow in his neck.  It makes me laugh as much as he laughs. He loves that kind of affectionate connection! I can say his love is also expressed when saw Sadie or the cats.. Even when you brought him to Petsmart adoption center!”

His aide and respite worker Lara have a special bond,Nick will sometimes lay his head on my shoulder and then look up at me with a smile and a twinkle in his eyes.” 

Sometimes it’s a touch on the cheek like with Grandma Babs, or rubbing elbows or noses.  My brother and his daughter Courtney think the *Eskimo kisses are awesome!

 Nick with his cousin Courtney…….A new take on kissing cousins 🙂

photo (116)

Here with his Dad as he says, “nose!”

photo (115)

My sister, Aunt Laura has a unique bond that neither time or distance separates.  “Nick gives me special things like the “eyes” or Nick might decide that he wants to touch my nose or he will touch elbows with me then if he is in a really loving mood he will give me a very special belly flash.”

Oh yes, the belly flashes.  I don’t even know how that started but it did years ago when he was around 3 or 4 years old. There are only a select few that are in what we called “The Belly Flash Club.”  My friend Sally is an elite member and recalls it as a sure sign of approval and affection.  While cute then, we eventually had to try and wean him off that practice so he wouldn’t come off as a pervert.   Well, that was until recently. Here is what Brian his speech therapist had to say, I’m not sure if you were going to include in your blog Nick’s affinity for flashing his abs as a show of affection. Of course I don’t belong to this exclusive club, but the only two female grad students he has ever worked with are!” 

Let me add that these two grad students are young and very attractive. 🙂

So, that is love, Nick style.  Hope you enjoyed the unique perspectives.  For more about Nick and his special relationships check out Blog #6~ The Nick Connection which is located in the May archives.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.  Until next Monday, peace, love and belly flashes!


*Eskimo Kiss- According to Wikipedia…..

“In modern Western culture, an eskimo kiss is the act of pressing the tip of one’s nose against another’s. It is loosely based on a traditional Inuit greeting called a kunik.[1]

A kunik is a form of expressing affection, usually between family members and loved ones, that involves pressing the nose and upper lip against the skin (commonly the cheeks or forehead) and breathing in, causing the loved one’s skin or hair to be suctioned against the nose and upper lip.[2] A common misconception is that the practice arose so that Inuit could kiss without their mouths freezing together. In fact, it is a non-erotic form of greeting that serves as an intimate way of greeting one another for people who, when they meet, often have little except their nose and eyes exposed.”


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

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