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

Nick~Spring Update

Nick~Spring Update

dandelion two

At last, spring has arrived in Chicago.  Here’s what Nick has been up to this spring at his adult day program.  My son is 23 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  Each day he engages in a variety of activities at this program.

Nick continues to have both in-house and community vocational jobs.  These include stocking shelves at a local food pantry, stuffing church bulletins and cleaning at GiGi’s playhouse.  He recently got a paid job in-house, crushing and recycling cans.


Other community activities in Nick’s day program include visits to the library, shopping, and local parks.  In house, the adult day program has many enrichment activities such as art, work bins, cooking, fitness, and gardening.  They have taken the carrot and broccoli pods which were started indoors this winter, and planted them outside.  His group also bought and spread mulch on the outdoor beds.

In cooking, they’ve made shepherds pie, fruit pizza, hot dogs & sloppy joes with fries, and biscuits with gravy.  They have so much fun playing bingo and having holiday theme parties.  For St. Patrick’s Day they made shamrock shakes, and for Cinco de Mayo they made burrito bowls.  Recently, the moms were invited to his room for a Mother’s Day tea.  Nick was very excited to have me visit.

Mother's Day Tea

Outside of Nick’s adult day program, he keeps busy with his respite workers.  He enjoys going to local parks,  the library, movie theatre and restaurants.  He’s a regular at Culvers and CiCi’s Pizza each week.  We are very fortunate to have such dedicated caregivers with Lara, Jodi and Kelsey, who he loves very much.

I’ve painted a pretty and serene picture of Nick’s world this spring.  But it’s not all dainty flowers and colorful rainbows.  There are quite a few dandelions scattered in the mix.


He continues to challenge us all with undesirable behaviors, like button pushing, throwing objects, blowing snot rockets and wiping them all over the place along with a lot of tapping and stimming.

Nick got a hold of a gargantuan tapper to stim on last week 🙂

Nick gargantuan tapper

There have been some milk thistles popping into the picture as well.  Last week he managed to add to his tally of fire alarm pulls, getting one at his day program.  So the alarm count stands today at 44 pulls.  OUCH!

milk thistle

The mix of cold weather and rain has led to some serious cabin fever this spring.  Here’s to warmer weather and getting my “one man wrecking crew” outdoors.  I’m grateful that Nick has a wonderful day program to go to, along with awesome respite workers that he loves.  He has a fulfilling life, and I get some peaceful time to myself.   Cheers to an abundance of flowers this spring, with fewer thorns.

That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂


Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall








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

4 thoughts on “Nick~Spring Update

  1. TJ What a wonderful post! You are excellent in creating vivid pictures of Nick’s World😍 Joleene

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Teresa,
    I just found this blog and I’ve begun reading through your archives. I’m fascinated because Nick seems like a bigger version of my 7 year-old son, who was just recently diagnosed with autism. I am both amused and dismayed to realize that– if Nick is any indication– my son may not actually outgrow his various challenging behaviors, like compulsively pushing every garage door opener and hand-sanitizer dispenser he can find. Instead, his behaviors may just evolve as he gets older! I applaud you for keeping your sense of humor and your willingness to share your adventures with Nick.
    Like Nick, my son’s worst behaviors (like throwing) are motivated by attention-seeking. It’s not like he’s lacking for attention, but he’s almost completely unable to entertain himself in appropriate ways. Lately I’ve been wondering, why do our kids have such a need for constant attention? Is it something in their wiring, or is it a learned behavior? Do you have any thoughts about that?

    1. Hi Carrie,

      Glad you found us and can relate to the similar behaviors. You sound like you have a good handle on the function of your son’s behaviors. I try to always reward the good/helpful behaviors lavishly and ignore/poker face the bad ones with natural consequences giving him as little attention as possible. I would suggest to continue to work with a behaviorist to get a handle on the button pushing and throwing. Structure helps too, but at the same time we as parents still have to get things done around the house. Nick has several chores, that he is proud of and does well, that is when he thrives. These include vacuuming, recycling, laundry, and unloading the dishwasher. Please keep in touch and let me know if there is a topic you would like me to write about. Happy to help! Best, Teresa 🙂

    2. Structure helps, but how much can we provide it at all times? In those times we can’t I think the behaviors are worse and they know that and act upon it. Just my two cents on it.

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