Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

Cyber Monday Update

cyber-monday

Cyber Monday Update

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  Nick was very excited to see his brother, Hank and his grandparents.  As I was setting the dining room table the night before, he went to his PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) book, and handed me this icon with his grandparents on it. Nick is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.

nick-gma-gpa-icon

We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving dinner and plenty of leftover mashed potatoes for big guy!  Nick was happy to see his Thomas the Tank engine ornament, while decorating the Christmas tree.

nick-ornament

Nick tried to make off with his brother’s new vacuum cleaner for himself.  He must have thought Christmas came early for him, instead of Hank. He managed to drag the box all the way into the living room.   He loves to vacuum and does a nice job at it.  This has been one of his community jobs for several years since high school.

nick-hanks-vacuum

It was a nice visit with family.  The leftovers are finished, the Christmas trees are up, now onto Cyber Monday.  I might have to add another Shark vacuum to the cart.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram @nickdsautism

Twitter #tjunnerstall

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Happy Thanksgiving

thankful

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s a busy week, so I’m keeping this brief.  Take time to count your blessings and enjoy the special time with loved ones, as you gather together.

I am grateful that Nick is happy, healthy, loving and yes, even mischievous, on this chilly Monday morning.  He kicked off the day in rare form.  In the 5 seconds it took to grab my purse, he rushed over and tossed my freshly brewed coffee all over the kitchen floor. Oh Nick, you do keep me on my toes, and for that I am thankful too.  Hey, it’s Nick’s world…. the rest of us are just trying to keep up.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Teresa 🙂

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #162~ Horseback Riding Therapy

Blog #162~ Horseback Riding Therapy

nick-horseback-therapy

Horseback riding therapy, also known as Equine Assisted Therapy, involves interactions with horses for individuals with and without special needs, including those with physical, cognitive and emotional issues.  Hippotherapy is another term used by physical, speech, and occupational therapists to reach their patients on a personal level.

horseback-therapy

There are many benefits such as motor, emotional and sensory sensations that come with riding a horse. Horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, to improve  in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.

At age one, my son Nick was unable to sit up by himself due his low muscle tone, which is a trait of having Down syndrome.

Nick at age one…..

nick-low-tone-high-chair

We had to prop him up in the high chair, so he wouldn’t slide down or slump to either side.  Nick was receiving physical, occupational and speech therapy in his early intervention program.  Shortly after his first birthday, we enrolled him in a horseback riding therapy program.

Person’s having Down syndrome please note:

“Prior to considering hippotherapy as a treatment strategy for your child, it is important that they have current cervical x-rays to ensure the atlantoaxial joint (or C1-C2) is not at risk for dislocation.  Some people with Down Syndrome also may have a condition known as Atlantoaxial Instability — a misalignment of the top two vertebrae of the neck. This condition makes these individuals more prone to injury if they participate in activities that overextend or flex the neck. Parents are urged to have their child examined by a physician to determine whether or not their child should be restricted from sports and activities that place stress on the neck injury.”

In less than nine months, of incorporating the horseback riding therapy, we noticed a vast improvement in Nick’s posture both in strength and endurance.  At first he couldn’t tolerate a helmet as it weighed him down, (as you can see in the first picture of this post).  But soon, he not only wore a helmet, but was able to keep his head upright, along with and sitting up better.

Nick with his brother, Hank, taken nine months after starting horseback riding therapy…

nick-sitting-with-hank

We decided on horseback riding therapy, initially to help our son gain trunk strength.  However, we soon realized there were many additional benefits that came along with it.  Not only did Nick ride on top of the horse, he also learned how to care for the horse by feeding, patting and brushing them.  This helped to create an emotional bond and opened up new sensory experiences that he couldn’t get in a clinical setting.  Riding a horse helped to wake up the sensory preceptors, making for a fun and motivating experience for him.

Horseback riding therapy was a wonderful experience for our son with special needs. The horses were gentle friends that helped Nick get stronger, build relationships through unspoken communication, and taught him about responsibility.  That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

Posted in Adult Day Programs for Special Needs, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #161~Adult Day Program Update

Nick relaxing

Blog #161~Adult Day Program Update

Nick turned 22 years old in February,  and aged out of public school.  He now attends an adult day program.  The program has many enriching and structured activities.  The structure is essential for my son who has both Down syndrome and autism.  Here is an update on what big guy has been doing in this program.

Each week his group goes on several community trips.  This fall, they have gone to various parks, shopping, the library and pumpkin farm.  The group plans their grocery lists of items needed for cooking and goes shopping on Wednesdays.  Thursdays are cooking days along with gardening.  Each day includes instructional learning and recreational activities. Once a month, the association celebrates birthdays and holidays, with parties and luncheons.  On Fridays, he participates in volunteer jobs in the community.  These jobs include cleaning and stuffing church bulletins, organizing at a local food pantry, and recently working at GiGi’s Playhouse.

What is GiGi’s Playhouse?

GiGi’s Playhouse is a one-of-a-kind achievement center for individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community. GiGi’s Playhouse offers more than 25 therapeutic and educational programs that advance literacy, math skills, motor skills and more; all of which are free of charge. All programs are based on best practices for Down syndrome learning styles, and customized to ensure individual success. GiGi’s Playhouse actually serves infants through adults. GiGi’s Playhouse is headquartered in Hoffman Estates, IL; with 15 locations throughout the United States and Mexico, with more opening soon.

Nick participated in GiGi’s Playhouse activities when he was younger.  It’s nice to see that he has come full circle, by doing volunteer work here, as a young adult.  Check out the photos of Nick in action…….

Nick working at GiGi’s Playhouse, Fox Valley location…

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nick-cleaning-gigis

nick-cleaning-two-gigis

Taking a snack break after working hard…..

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Nick takes great pride in helping out in his community jobs, around the venue of his adult day program, and at home, as well.  He looks forward to going to his adult day program, that provides a safe environment, along with a warm and caring staff.  As Nick’s mom, that gives me great comfort knowing that he is contributing to society and happy in his young adult life.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram @#nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall