Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #105~ Furry Friends and Special Needs Families

Blog #105~ Furry Friends and Special Needs Families

I wish that my iPhone camera was set to video last Friday. Nick came home from school and he was so excited to hear a tiny meow.  We adopted a new kitten from the shelter.  His face just lit up.  He was so excited and delighted saying, “Yay, kibbie!”  (That is how Nick says “kitty”)  Nick has Down syndrome and autism.  He also has verbal apraxia so his speech is limited.  Yet, I am always amazed at some of the words he says. Many are things that he is passionate about. Here are a few: Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Sprite, cake, shower, Harold -from Thomas the Tank Engine, and yes….. a couple of expletives as well.

In Nick’s communication book he has many picture icons to request things and share his feelings. On many occasions, Nick has handed me these two icons paired together………

Mellie Sad Icons

We had to put down our 17-year-old cat last summer. Miss Mellie was such a big part of the family. Nick had a lot of fun with her over the years.  I’ve dedicated several blogs about their relationship……

Here is a hint of what you can find on the blogs above……Splat!

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Despite all the mischievous things Nick has done, Miss Mellie would still snuggle up with him……


Our new kitten is a sweet tabby as well. She’s 5 months old, loves to cuddle and has a nice deep purr.  She is spirited yet not destructive, and even plays fetch!  I’ll post some footage of her fetching on The Facebook page, “Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism” this Friday.  Nick has been swinging some of the wands that dangle cat toys for her.  He is a little skittish when she wants to rub up around his legs.  But otherwise, the two are getting along nicely.

Introducing the new furry family member……

Kibbie one

So, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned her name yet. We are taking a few days to observe her personality and see what suits her.  Nick’s brother (Hank), came in from NIU to meet her and brainstorm names.

Hank and kitty…..

Hank and Kitty

I think she is settling in nicely….

Kibbie Two

I posted pictures on Facebook on Friday. My friend Kendra, suggested naming the kitten the first thing that Nick puts on her. Well if we do that, her name thus far would either be “Sneezy” or……….


snots the dog

I look forward to sharing more about Nick and the adventures of our new furry family member. Stay tuned for the announcement of her name. And in the meantime, I’ll keep the shaving cream and fajita seasoning locked up.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂


Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Feeding, Personal Hygiene, Toileting

Blog #104~ Parenting and Discipline

Blog #104~ Parenting and Discipline

I recently was in a conversation with two young mothers of school age children. Both were talking about how much they did for their kids.  One mom commented that her daughter was old enough to make her own bed.  Yet she would do it herself because her daughter did it so sloppily.  The other one talked about scrambling to get the lunches made and double checking to see if all the homework was in their backpacks.  I scratched my head and wondered about this. Why weren’t they using these opportunities to help foster independence in their children?  I think as a mom, sometimes it’s just easier to do it yourself instead of constant reminders and nagging.  But in the long run, this does nothing to teach your child responsibility. Which brings me to my point this week; parenting is not only disciplining your child but also staying disciplined yourself.

When you are raising a child with special needs, it is even more difficult to teach independent living skills. Things take longer to learn with deficits in speech, gross motor and fine motor skills.  The process of putting on shoes and socks can be a ten minute ordeal.  With the bus coming at 7:25 a.m. the morning may not be ideal to use as a teaching moment. But you can carve out chunks of time to practice independent living skills during down times.

My son, Nick is now 20 years old. He has Down syndrome and autism.  Once at a high school conference, his teachers and therapists pointed out how good he was at self-care (in fact the strongest student in the class). I attribute this to three things:

1. Providing those teaching moments to practice skills

2. Using visuals so he can be prompted

3. Staying disciplined in the routine rather than just doing it myself

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The most challenging thing I have ever done was getting my son with special needs toilet trained. It is also happens to be the greatest thing that I have accomplished in my life. It was certainly a marathon, not a sprint.  In fact it was the longest and hardest marathon imaginable.  And we stepped in a LOT of poop along the way.

poop icon

When I look back at that road, one thing stands out on how Nick finally got toilet trained. It was DISIPLINE! Yes, I worked with autism specialists, went to potty training workshops and used visuals.  But nothing worked until I disciplined myself to create a timed toileting schedule and stick with it.  This (combined with the fact that Nick finally was mature enough), led to the success of him getting out of Depends and into underwear.  And that was a glorious sight to see. 🙂

It was a long road but we made it to the other side, tada!


The importance of staying disciplined as a parent will pay off in the long run. You can’t wipe your child’s bottom forever.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.


Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Education and Special Needs

Blog #103~Vocations for a Person with Special Needs

Blog #103~Vocations for a Person with Special Needs

Some 20 years ago when my son was born with Down syndrome, I wondered what kind of job Nick could do when he became an adult. I found myself gravitating to the checkout lines with the baggers who had Down syndrome.  Like a stalker I watched them work and interact with customers.   I’d ask for a carry out so I could chat more and offer up a huge tip.  I found a lot of hope in such moments.

Those dreams were crushed when autism ravaged my son’s mind and body. His speech would not come as it should have.  His behaviors were strange with all the stimming and worst yet, they became unpredictable.  Autism robbed his chance of being the best that he could have been with just Down syndrome.

Hope came back while Nick was in high school. In Blog #57~Community Jobs and Nick,  I wrote about what jobs he held out in the community. The link is @

Nick working at Re-Store (Habitat for Humanity)…..

Nick packaging door knobs_Habitat_4 (2)

Nick takes a lot of pride in his work.  Okay so, he might have pulled a fire alarm at his vacuuming job at a nursing home (woopsie).But for the most part he participated well in all his jobs.

Nick working at Tabor Hills 🙂 ………..

Nick tabor hills

Fast forward to the present, Nick finished high school and attends a post-secondary transition program. In this program the students work in house on job skills, are employed in the community, and some take college classes.  While Nick participates in production and vocational work in the school building, he no longer works out in the community.  His unpredictable behavior, especially the fire alarm pulls (30 since third grade) put him at too much risk to hold a job.  Reality has sunk in. 😦

I’m not going to lie. It’s a kick in the gut. The daunting task now is to come up with a plan.  How will Nick occupy his days once the bus stops coming to the door (at age 22)? I reached out to some of his teachers from high school awhile back.  (Originally I planned to make Blog #100 to be “100 Cool Things About Nick” That was way too ambitious and long.)  But here are a few things they sent to me that fit nicely here:

From Mrs. Hunt (his primary teacher and case worker):

Nick has great functional skills! I’ve seen him help with a variety of chores and complete personal care routines better than some typical teens! Nick is a hard worker and loves to vacuum. Nick has a hilarious sense of humor! His laugh and smile are contagious, even when he’s being a stinker- which makes behavior management even tougher. Nick is clever and perseveres. When he’s determined, he’s going to have his way. Elbow bumps- this is how I know who has a good relationship with Nick. His elbow bumps make a person feel awesome.  I love that the last time I saw him, he still gave me one.  I love that Nick is a typical young man at heart- burps and fart jokes so funny.” 

Being silly with Ms. R, his aide in high school 🙂

Devil horns

His vocational teacher, Ms. Stoodley offered up some ideas for possible jobs for Nick: 

  • Dancer
  • Happiness Creator
  • Adult Education Educator (all of us that he has taught and made better)
  • Vacuuming expert
  • Fire alarm Coordinator
  • Siren Director 
  • Professor of Dumping
  • Screw Sorter Assistant


I am slowly digesting the fact that Nick may not be able to work in the community. We need to look at his strengths, then create a meaningful day for him where he is productive and happy.  He is a “happiness creator” even in the midst of creating chaos. So yes, there is uncertainty regarding his future.  We have 17 month to figure things out.  Stay tuned……

That’s what is in my noggin’ this week,


Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Down syndrome, Speech and Occupational Therapy

Re-Blog~One of My Favorites

Re-Post~ One of My Favorite Blogs

No school today, it’s “Building Articulation Day” (whatever that is).  I was going to try and write but Nick is on a mission to drive me bonkers this morning.  So I decided to re-post one of my favorite blogs.  You will get a real sense of Nick’s world living with Down syndrome and autism.

Here’s a hint 🙂 ………. Splat!

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That wasn’t part of the recipe, Nick…….. Poor Woody


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Now that I have your curiosity, see what else Nick has done and what we do about it @

Hope you enjoyed Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up. That’s what is in my noggin this week.