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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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 🙂

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Posted in Adult Day Programs for Special Needs, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Blog #154~Adult Day Program 6 Month Update

Blog #154~Adult Day Program 6 Month Update

On my son’s 22nd birthday this past February, the little yellow bus stopped coming to the door.  My son, Nick has Down syndrome and autism and has aged out of school.  For the past 6 months,  Nick has been going to an adult day program.  This week I want to share some of the activities he’s been doing in this excellent program at the Keeler Center.

Nick’s adult day program is filled with many fulfilling activities each day.  Mondays are dedicated field trip days.

Here are some of the places Nick has visited in the community:

Shedd Aquarium

Library

Brookfield Zoo

Fabyan Park Japanese Garden

Fox Valley Park District Greenhouse

Phillips Park

Red Oak Nature Center

Art Studios

Fermi Lab

Local restaurants (Noodles & Company, Dunkin Doughnuts, Culvers, Colonial Café, etc..)

In the facility, Nick participates in a variety of activities:

Vocational jobs (cleaning and vacuuming sensory room, recycling, shredding, work  bins, gardening, menu planning, cooking, etc..)

nick vacumming aid

Social circle (News to You, greeting and using AAC devices)

Science projects

Table and bin work

Nick work aid

Arts and Crafts (for art fairs, mothers/father’s day, making cards, painting, etc..)

Recreational (gym activities, yoga, etc..)

Nick yoga AID

Fun Fridays (Holiday theme parties, dancing, karaoke, games, concerts, cookouts, movies, etc..)

Speech therapy (insurance private pay), to work on articulation and using his AAC device

Outside the facility, his group does community recycling, shopping for cooking day as well as volunteer jobs.  One of the sites is at a local church, (stuffing bulletins and cleaning the nursery).  The other workplace is at a food pantry, where they organize and stock inventory, like dried beans, cereal and peanut butter.

Nick recycling

Nick has a full life and rewarding activities in his adult day program. The staff is very dedicated, caring, welcoming and patient.  Yes, patient! Nick’s pulled several fire alarms the last few months.  The behaviorist on staff  has put a plan in  place, and met with the staff to curtail this ongoing problem. Hey, it’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up. The current fire alarm pull count is now 40 pulls since 3rd grade.

While his speech is limited due to having a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, I can tell that he is very happy in this program.  How do I know?  When I wake him up in the morning he is excited to get dressed and out the door.  The other day I was driving him and his buddy Josh to the site.  Just before we crossed over the Fox River, Nick started saying “Keeler” with a big thumbs up.  It warms my heart knowing that Nick is happy and contributing to society. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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

Blog #145~Hitting Milestones, Moving On

Blog #145~Hitting Milestones, Moving On

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This weekend we had a big milestone.  Nick’s brother Hank, graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Communication.  Nick is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  He recently reached his own milestone, finishing up the Post-Secondary transition program.  Nick now attends an adult day program.  He has a full day with activities including on site activities, community trips, vocational jobs (recycling, cleaning both on site and at a local church), and working a food pantry).  He keeps busy and is very happy in this new program.

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On the way to the NIU campus, we passed by his old high school. I pointed MVHS out to Nick and he instantly replied and signed, “All done”.  My niece, Anna, their Grandpa Jim, and I were astonished.  Nick recognized that he had been there, done that and had moved on.

Nick at MVHS graduation a few years ago, held at NIU Convocation Center…

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The mood in the NIU Convocation Center was festive.  Nick swayed back and forth in his seat to the music of the steel drum band jamming in the background. I’ve never heard the Pomp and Circumstance played quite like this.  Instead of getting teary eyed as I normally would, it felt more like a delightful celebration.

NIU Steel  Drum Band=Awesome!

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Nick was very patient and kept quiet through all the speeches.  It was a lovely day, and a proud moment for the whole family. Nick’s Dad was full of pride, as he is an alum of NIU and also a marketing major.

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Nick looks like he is eyeing an alarm in this picture, doesn’t he?  He didn’t pull one on graduation day (whew)!  But, he did get another last Friday at his adult day program site.

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Current count=36 fire alarm pulls.

At last, both of my sons are done with school and moving onto their adult lives.  My wish is for Hank and Nick is for them to feel productive, contribute to society, and be happy in all they do.  I am very proud of my guys.  It was a good day at sea.  That’s what’s in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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Posted in Adult Day Programs for Special Needs, Autism, Down syndrome, Uncategorized

Blog #137~Nick’s Adult Day Program

Blog #137~Nick’s Adult Day Program

Nick is just about a month into his new adult day program.  My son just turned 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  The month before his 22nd birthday he was attending the program part time.  Gradually we increased his days and hours during the month of January.  This made for a nearly seamless transition out of school to his new location.

The one bug in the whole process has been the transportation piece.  The first try was using a riding service through our county.  This was a fail.  There was a different driver every time, and you had to pay cash $13.50 each way.  The final nail in that coffin was a driver who (as reported by Nick’s job coach), was speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and throwing his leftover lunch out the window.  The next driving service we tried were caring and nice.  However they were never on time and cost way much more money ($27.50 each way) Ouch!  Currently, we’ve hired a lovely gal who is taking Nick in the mornings.  Kelsey has been a godsend.  She said that Nick is the best way to start her mornings. 🙂

Nick in car aid

For the time being, I am picking him up each afternoon.  Ideally, I hope to find another driver or find someone to share carpool duties with as it really cuts into my schedule. Otherwise I’ll paint my car taxi cab yellow. 😀  Stay tuned……

Nick has adjusted well in his new program.  Here are a few snapshots:

Vocational tasks….. (What, he’s not spraying anyone in the eye or drenching a flat screen tv?)

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Nick relaxing in the sensory room….

Nick sensory aid

In his new program, the group goes out into the community three times a week.  He has already been to the Shedd Aquarium, recycling & food pantry jobs, shopping for cooking supplies and eating out at restaurants. The program also has special days with themes like Elvis Day, soul food cooking, Valentine’s Day party and monthly birthday celebrations.  The staff is caring and they really love what they do.  Nick has been very happy here.

Yes, there have been a few behaviors that have challenged the staff. That’s to be expected.  Nick can spot fresh meat and will test you.  But last week and the follow up meeting, the behaviorist felt these were manageable.  It really helped that the school sent his job coach with him during the transition.  Jodi, was able to help the staff understand these and guide them on how to handle Nick.  So far, he has only got to the cover of a fire alarm. I had my money on him pulling one the first week. 🙂

As Nick’s mom, it warms my heart to know that his days are full, structured, meaningful and that he is happy in his new adult life. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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Posted in Adult Day Programs for Special Needs, Autism, Down syndrome, Health Issues and Special Needs Child

Update This Week

Update This Week

Nick had a checkup this morning.  He cooperated for the most part.  Although he wasn’t to thrilled about getting the TB test.  This is in preparation for his transition to the adult day program that I have been writing about the past two weeks.  My son Nick has Down syndrome and autism, and will be turning 22 very soon.  As I sat there with him, I thought back on all the times we have been to the doctor.  I am grateful that he has been in good health.  It is truly a blessing.

That’s what is in my noggin this week 🙂

~Teresa

The face of unsure expectations…..

Nick Doctor

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Posted in Adult Day Programs for Special Needs, Autism, Down syndrome, Education and Special Needs, Uncategorized

Blog #133~Transition to Adult Day Program

Blog #133~Transition to Adult Day Program

As I mentioned last week, the countdown is on to the end of school for my son.  Nick is 21 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  In just a few weeks he will celebrate his 22nd birthday and will age out of the school system.  So what will Nick do when the little yellow bus stops coming to pick him up?  Here’s a peek into his transition to the adult day program which started last week.

Nick is attending half days twice a week.  Each morning starts in the gym.  Here are some of the activities he will be doing:

Sensory Swing…..

Nick Swing AID

Yoga time….

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Bowling….

Nick Bowling AID

Nick picked out an animal book for one of his choice activities….

Nick reading AID

Nick stole his teacher’s chair when she got up.  Looks like he’s  making himself at home.  Now all he needs is a crown. 🙂

Nick chair AID

Here’s Nick’s reaction when his job coach asked if he liked his new school.  A fist pump with a big yay! 🙂

Nick fist bump AID

Week one of the transition to the adult day program was a success. A special thank you to Jodi, his job coach for providing the pictures above!  I’m so pleased that he is happy there and the activities keep him busy, productive and most of all, happy 🙂  There are a few more wrinkles to iron out, but progress is being made for this to be a success for Nick.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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