Blog #93~Down Syndrome & Autism and Getting Help
Last Saturday was the National Down Syndrome Association (NADS) Retreat. NADS serves families in the Chicago area. This retreat is specifically for families that have a child with Down syndrome and autism. There is a children’s program that includes play time and swimming where respite workers are provided by NADS. Nick loves going to the retreat.
Nick enjoying pool time at the NADS Retreat a few years back……
The children’s program also has music therapy. Here’s Nick jamming last Saturday…….. 🙂
The parent agenda this year was to tackle some of areas that we’ve all been struggling with. Dr. Louis Weiss, Ph. D. lead a guided discussion of the top five topics chosen by the families attending the retreat. The five areas of discussion included:
- Getting respite care and funding for it.
- Parental and family stress
- Dealing with systems.
One family posed the question about their child and regression of behaviors. Dr. Weiss made a comment which resonated with me. He said that regression can happen during periods of transition. Regression is a way to prepare oneself to move forward. If a person doesn’t feel safe they will pull back first before they can launch themselves forward.
I had as Oprah says an “Ah-ha moment”. Last fall, my son Nick (19 years old) out of nowhere began to wet his pants repeatedly at school. I figured it was stress because he was starting the new transition program. But after hearing this comment it all made sense now. He was trying to deal with a new setting and a crowded bus. Nick didn’t feel secure and his behavior reflected just that.
Speaking of stress, there is a great deal of it for families raising a child with Down syndrome and autism. Let me put a lens on what we talked about. Imagine having to wash the sheets every day after your 14 year old wets or soils them. Or how about this? The constant worrying that your 12 year old may take a dump in the neighborhood pool and shut it down. Picture a 15 year old getting off the bus and plopping down in the middle of the street. He won’t budge for a solid hour. You have to stand there and direct traffic around him because no one stops to help out, and you forgot your cell phone.
Here is the takeaway that I got from this session. Dr. Weiss suggested that we need to figure out what causes us to suffer. Then look at re-framing the story, in essence figure out a way to fix it. Maybe it’s hiring a sitter to come in and wash those dirty sheets. Perhaps counseling could help with the stress. In addition, just getting a new set of eyes on the problem may help. This can be done by contacting an advocate or behavior support specialist.
We spent the afternoon building a resource list, networking, sharing our struggles and offering advice to support each other. By the end of the day, parents walked away loaded with more power in their arsenals. I am grateful to have the support of NADS and the retreat. It’s good to share struggles, successes and get help. Plus, no one in our group bats an eye if a kid is tapping shoe insoles against their mouth, stimming on a karate belt or plopped right in the middle of the corridor. These guys remind me that I’m not alone on this road navigating Down syndrome and autism. That’s what is in my noggin this week.
🙂 One last thing, Did you notice I changed the title of my blog to Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism? (Though some days I think it’s the other way around) 🙂
I also have a new Facebook page with this title. You will find some new things here including weekly videos of Nick being silly. If you are on Facebook, please take a look at this page: Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism and I’d appreciate it if you would like the page!