Posted in Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #172~ Autism:5 Ways You Can Help

Blog #172~ Autism: 5 Ways You Can Help

The aim of Autism Awareness Month this year, is to educate the public about autism.  How do you react when you see or meet a person that has autism?  Autism is a complex mental condition and developmental disability, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with other people.  People with autism are classed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the terms autism and ASD are often used interchangeably. A wide spectrum disorder, people will autism have set of symptoms unique to themselves; no two people are the same.

autism awareness 2016

My son Nick is 23 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  As April comes to a close this week, I want to touch on autism awareness and acceptance.  Since the aim this month is to educate the public about autism,  I would like to challenge each of you to open your mind and heart to people having autism, along with their families and caregivers.

photo (26)

Here are 5 things you can do to show acceptance and support:

*Open your heart, give a smile to a family struggling out in public with a child who has autism.  If you are a praying person, say a prayer for compassion and tolerance.

*Reach out, pay a compliment or offer help, to a family who might be dealing with a difficult time with their child.  “You have a lovely family.” “You are a wonderful parent, I admire your patience.”  If you encounter a family going through a tough time, such as a meltdown, or if the child is shutting down, ask them “What can I do to help?”

*Be a friend, make a phone call to check in, set up a coffee or lunch date, or offer to help out with carpooling or running an errand.  Bring a bottle of wine or a Starbucks latte, over and chat.  Many parents may not get a chance to speak to other adults on a daily basis.

*Teach your child about inclusivity.  Invite a classmate with autism, to your child’s birthday party.  Show that they are genuinely welcome, even if their child can only tolerate a short time.  Look into inclusion opportunities for your child at school like lunch buddy or peer partner programs and volunteering for Special Olympics.  These are all ways to teach your child to be kind and compassionate.

It’s great to see that Sesame Street just added a new muppet, Julia who has autism!

Julia Sesame Street

*Stand up and advocate, if you overhear someone saying something inconsiderate about autism or any other disability, speak up!  Share about autism on your social media.

Awareness and acceptance means allowing yourself to be open, compassionate and kind.  Acceptance is not about tolerating others that are different from you.  It is about valuing our differences as human beings, and seeing the heart and strengths that lies in each of us.  That’s what is in my noggin as Autism Awareness Month wraps up this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram @ #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

Posted in Autism, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Feeding, Personal Hygiene, Toileting

Blog #170~Teaching Independent Living Skills

Blog #170~Teaching Independent Living Skills

Brushing your teeth, bathing, dressing, and doing household chores, are all a part of what a parent teaches their child.  But what if you are a parent of a child with special needs?  How do you teach these independent living skills?

Nick vacumming_Tabor Hills (3)

My son Nick is 23 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.  He has learned many self-help skills, and assists around the house with several chores.  These independent living skills give him a sense of accomplishment and pride.  It also takes the burden off me as his mom.

So how do you get started?  First, identify areas that you want to work on with your child.  Pick just one skill, that your child can do with assistance.  This skill should have value and interest to them.  Take for instance the task of washing your hands.  This was something my son liked to do because he enjoys running the faucets. 😉  The next step is to break down the task into simple steps.  Take these simple steps and determine what supports are needed to teach this skill.  For a child that has autism, it helps greatly to provide visual supports.  This can be written instructions, using picture sequences, or video modeling.

Picture sequence for washing hands….

handwashing routine

When using picture sequences, determine with your child’s teacher, if it’s more effective to use the style above, or actual photographs of the sequence.  Each child is different in how they can understand pictures. You can find many picture sequences on Google Images, or ask your child’s support teacher to make you some.  Another option is to use an iPad, and download apps that show these sequences.  There are tons apps available, here is just one of many:

iPad App called iDo Hygiene (free app)….

iDo hygiene

Once the visual supports are in place, you can guide your child step by step, using “hand over hand technique” to teach the motor skills.  As your child develops these skills, begin to fade back, by point prompting to each picture.  Be sure to use lots of praise and cheer them on their successes.

Here are a few examples of other self-help skills that you can work on with your child around the house:

*Hygiene skills like brushing teeth, showering, washing face and hands, brushing hair, toileting, shaving.

*Recycling and can crushing

*Shredding

*Help with laundry

Nick laundry

*Unload the dishwasher

*Set the table

*Make the bed

*Fold and put away laundry

*Water plants

Nick watering plants

*Cleaning windows and countertops

*Dusting

*Unload groceries and put them away

Nick toilet paper

*Cooking

*Vacuuming

Many of these household chores provide great sensory input.  Push and pull activities like carrying laundry baskets and vacuuming, are excellent examples.  Heavy work provides proprioceptive input to the muscles & joints.  This can be very calming, organizing, and regulating, decreasing stress and anxiety.

Not all of the skills above are Nick’s favorites to do.  As a parent,  you can determine which activities are more motivating for your child.  Focus on those first.  Nick really enjoys vacuuming.  Another strength Nick has is matching, and remembering where things go.  So for him, unloading the dishwasher and putting groceries away were both easier and motivating for him to do.

Teaching your child independent living skills, will strengthen their abilities to hold a job in the future.

Nick doing volunteer work at GiGi’s Playhouse…

nick-cleaning-gigis

It also fosters a sense of fulfillment and gratification for them, as well.  So, pick one task, roll up your sleeves and get to work. 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, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #169~ I’m Very Aware of Autism and More

Blog #169~ I’m Very Aware of Autism and More

autism ribbon

April is “Autism Awareness Month” – a time to promote awareness, acceptance and attention to those people who are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

Yes, I’m very aware of autism, and more.  So is anyone, who has been around my son.  Nick is 23 years old, and has dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, (DS-ASD).  He does a good job spreading awareness wherever he goes. 🙂  Honestly, it’s hard for me to get on board with the “Light it Up Blue” campaign.  Why is that?  Because my son doesn’t fit in with any of the support groups for autism, due to his is lack of speech, cognitive and developmental delays.

“Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These issues cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning.”

autism awareness 2016

Since my son has a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD, I’m going to put my focus on this area.  According to The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) http://www.ndss.org:

“Children who have ASD may or may not exhibit all of these characteristics at any one time nor will they consistently demonstrate their abilities across similar circumstances. Some of the variable characteristics of ASD we have commonly observed in children with DS-ASD include:

  • Unusual response to sensations (especially sounds, lights, touch or pain)
  • Food refusal (preferred textures or tastes)
  • Unusual play with toys and other objects
  • Difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings
  • Little or no meaningful communication
  • Disruptive behaviors (aggression, throwing tantrums, or extreme non-compliance)
  • Hyperactivity, short attention, and impulsivity
  • Self-injurious behavior (skin picking, head hitting or banging, eye-poking, or biting)
  • Sleep disturbances
  • History of developmental regression (esp. language and social skills)”

NDSS_logo

My son Nick, certainly hits most of the bullet points listed above.  It’s a unique mix having a child with a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD.  For many years, I felt isolated from the local DS support group because my child had many of those characteristics.  Eventually, I was put in contact with a small group of parents that also had children with DS-ASD.  This was a group within The National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS), here is Chicago.  Finding this group, made all the difference.  These parents were in the same boat, sharing similar experiences, struggles, and yes funny stories, that I could relate to.  In addition to local support groups, there are many online groups for DS-ASD on Facebook.

photo (26)

During Autism Awareness Month, I would like to see the government and media focus   on more educational, behavioral supports and other treatment options.  What is going to happen to our kids when they age out of the school system?  There aren’t near enough employment opportunities, day programs or group homes for this rapidly growing population.  In addition, I’d like there to be an easier path to obtain funding through the government.

understanding

For the month of April, parents of a child with autism, or a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD, need understanding and support. Do you know a parent with a child who has autism?  Consider lending someone a hand, so they can run an errand.   We also need more compassion, and less judgment when we are out in public with our child.   And many of us, could use a good night’s sleep.

autism and sleep cartoon

You can also help by sharing information and stories, to raise awareness on social media. A better informed public will be more empathetic and supportive towards people with autism and a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

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, Autism Safety and Wandering, Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #168~ New Disability Identification Card

Blog #168~ New Disability Identification Card

This morning, I attended an event presented by Illinois State Representative, Stephanie Kifowit at the Aurora Police Department.   Last year, she sponsored legislation to create a disability awareness card.  Many individuals in our community live with special needs.  Often, their conditions can sometimes make it difficult to communicate in stressful situations.  This new disability wallet card was unveiled to foster better communication for individuals who struggle during these times.

State Representative Stephanie Kifowit….

FullSizeRender

This initiative was the idea of School Board President Lori Price, who is a parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Persons with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities may shut down, get nervous, panic or display inappropriate behaviors during high stress situations.  The disability awareness card is a tool, to help individuals quickly identify themselves to first responders and other public figures.   An individual can quickly show this wallet card, which will help to prevent a situation from escalating.

Face it, we all get nervous when being pulled over by a police officer.  Imagine what it must feel like for a person medically diagnosed with an intellectual, developmental or mental disability. This wallet card is different from the state ID card, as it contains the following…..

On this card, these conditions may present a person who:

*Appears deaf or unable to understand

*Has difficulty speaking or communicating

*Engages in repetitive or self-stimulating behaviors such as rocking or hand flapping.  

*Becomes agitated due to physical contact or stressful situations

*Acts indifferent or unresponsive

These conditions are stated on the card along with this statement:

“Please do not interpret my behavior as refusal to cooperate.  To better communicate with me, it can be helpful to speak slowly and clearly, repeat questions and allow time for responses.”

“If those techniques are unsuccessful, I request that you contact the person noted below on my behalf as he/she will confirm my diagnosis and provide information you may need about my identity or condition.”

These cards are free to individuals who have been approved by the Secretary of State’s office for an Illinois Person with a Disability ID card.  

For an application click here @https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com

I applaud State Representative Stephanie Kifowit for taking Lori Price’s idea for this simple card, that will improve communication and help de-escalate high stress situations.  This will assist law enforcement and first responders in keeping our loved ones safe.  Readers , please let me know if an identification card like this has been implemented, where you live.  If not, perhaps it’s time to champion this effort!

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

~Teresa

Who’s getting funky on World Down Syndrome Day, 3/21?

Deadline for ordering your funky socks for World Down Syndrome Day is this Thursday.  Support our campaign to help The National Association for Down Syndrome and our local homeless shelter by ordering and rocking your socks on, 3/21!  Click here to order: https://my.wehelptwo.com/campaign?reset=1&id=373

Follow Nick:

Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism on Facebook and Pinterest

#dsautism on Instagram

@tjunnerstall on Twitter

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Parenting Special Needs

Blog #166~ Lessons Learned on a Ski Slope

vail

Blog #166~ Lessons Learned on a Ski Slope

After a 27 year hiatus, I recently went on a ski trip to Vail, Colorado.  My older son, Hank had never skied before so we opted to take a lesson together.  Our instructor Brad, offered up many useful tips to help us navigate the slopes. Many of the things that Brad pointed out, can apply to raising a child with special needs.  My younger son, Nick is 22, and has Down syndrome and autism.  The daily challenges can weigh a parent down both physically and mentally.  That’s were the lessons I learned on a ski slope come in.

Lessons Learned on a Ski Slope…….

*If you point your ski’s too far uphill you are going to roll down…..

Over the years I’ve set goals for my son, Nick.  Many of these were aimed too high.  As a result, my expectations were not realistic, and Nick fell further back than I anticipated.  For example, during his elementary years Nick had a handwriting goal.  I was determined that he would be able to write his name and pushed hard for several year to keep it in his IEP.  This goal was my dream, but not Nick’s reality.  A pen or marker in Nick’s hands equals scribbling all over his skin and clothes.  I learned that you have to adjust your child’s goals to what is reasonable and attainable for them, and not for yourself.

*Don’t Fred Flintstone your feet…..

When you ski it’s important to shift the weight on your feet and apply the pressure at different points in order to make the turns.  If you dig in and “Fred Flintstone” your feet, the skiing becomes rigid and doesn’t glide naturally.  There has to be room for some give and take, when working with a child with special needs. It’s unfair to put pressure on your child to do everything you want, in a given day.  Sometimes you have to let that foot up and allow them to have room to understand, process, and do things in their own time. Take your foot off the brakes, otherwise, things will break down for your child.

fred-flintstone-feet

*Learn how to stop correctly…….

The day before our ski lesson, my son Hank went out with his Dad, Al, to try out skiing.  He came home very tired, cranky and discouraged due to going to fast, falling, and struggling to get back up.  During the ski lesson, he learned how to maneuver his body, and the proper ways to stop.  Afterwards, Hank had much more confidence and felt success.  If you push your child with special needs to do too much, they become frustrated as Hank did. This can lead to a risk of sensory  overload and potential meltdowns.  Recognize those signs of distress, and stop the activity before your child reaches a boiling point.

Hank and I with our ski instructor, Brad…..

vail-with-brad

*Relax and take in the scenery….

On the ski lift, our instructor Brad, encouraged me to put my ski’s up on the foot rest and relax.  He could sense that I was nervous about leaving the comfort of the bunny slope.  He reminded me to breathe, look around, and take in the beautiful scenery.  I think the same can be true in life with a child who has special needs.  The seamless schedule of doctor and therapy appointments, along with the pressure of working with them at home can get to be too much.   Nick had very low muscle tone, which is a trait of having Down syndrome.  I was constantly providing stimulating activities and exercises to get him stronger so he could roll over, crawl, sit up and walk.  Beyond gross motor skills, there was work to be done with feeding, speech and fine motor skills. The guilt of not feeling like you are doing enough for your child can burden a parent even more.  At some point, you have to just relax and not beat yourself up.  Take a breath and enjoy the beauty of your child for who they are.

My son, Nick……

nick-senior-alarm-pic

Skiing like many other sports offer lessons for us to learn in our lives.  That day on the slopes,  I was reminded about the importance of being flexible in what I expect from my son with Down syndrome and autism.  On the eve of his 23rd birthday, I reflect back on how far Nick has come.  I going to take a moment and breathe.  Like the backdrop of the blue sky against the snow covered Rocky Mountains,  I just want to take that in.  🙂 

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

happy-birthday-boys

Wishing both Nick and his Dad, Al a very Happy Birthday this week ……

al-and-nick-vail

Follow Nick on Instagram @nickdsautism, on Facebook and Pinterest @Down syndrome with a Slice of Autism and Twitter #tjunnerstall

 

 

 

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

Blog #165~ Betty White on Staying Positive

betty-white

Blog #165~ Betty White on Staying Positive

Betty White turned 95 last week, and beams with happiness and positivity!  She was interviewed by Katie Couric, who asked this American treasure, about the state of our country, and how divided it is.

Here is what Betty had to say……

“It’s not in the best place we’ve ever been, but I think that’s the time, to buckle down and really work positively as much as you can. Instead of saying, Oh this is terrible, oh he’s terrible, just think alright, there is nothing I can do about that right now. But I can do the best in my little circle.  So if I do that, maybe you’ll do your best, and we’ll get through.”

Katie Couric went on to state how hard it is for some people to be positive, with so much negativity with the barrage of politics and social media creating a toxic environment.  Betty, acknowledged this, and offered these thoughts…….  

So many people think negatively saying, you know what I hate, oh I hate this.  Instead of alright, I’ll get through this.  Then you start lifting up a bit.”

rise-by-lifting-others

“If you start with, you know what I hate, you’re going to go right down the tubes” 

Betty White is a positive thinker, in her words a “cockeyed optimist” and attributes that to staying happy all 95 years of her life.  I thought about this interview, when the sun came out after countless foggy, gray days here in Chicago.  I took a power walk soaking in the sunny, blue skies and mild 55 degree day.  I could feel the sunshine lifting my spirits.  Not everyday starts with sunshine, especially in January.  But my day ALWAYS start with a smile, (and usually a fart and giggle), from my son, Nick.  He is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.

nick-culvers

It’s a great way to start each day.🙂  Nick’s smile is contagious, his attitude uplifting.  Anyone in Nick’s inner circle has witnessed his joy.  A treat at Culver’s brings on such happiness to big guy.  Nick does well finding pleasure in the simple things, being silly, and making people laugh. Yes, he has his moments of getting frustrated and upset like the rest of us.  But he shakes it off, never holding a grudge or negativity.

Betty White and my son, Nick, have the right idea by entering each day with a positive attitude.  It will not only elevate your mood, but those around you.

It’s no wonder why Betty White looks and feels these way she does at age 95, with her words of wisdom…….. *Buckle down  *Think positive  *Do the best in your little circle *You got to get through this, one foot in front of the other.  

Let the sunshine come out in your heart and beam onto others. Your positive spirit will ripple out of your own circle and expand to those around you. That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂

~Teresa

water-circle

Follow Nick:

Facebook/Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

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

Nick’s World Update

 Nick’s World Update

Have you settled into 2017 yet, after the busy holiday season?  I’m so happy to be back to share Nick’s world with you!  Nick is 22 years old, and has Down syndrome and autism.  Here are some of the highlights of Big Guy’s holiday fun.

We spent the holidays at home, here in Chicago. Nick enjoyed seeing family.  He’s always happy to see his brother, Hank and share elbow bumps!

nick-and-bro-x-mas

Kibbie had a very “Meowy Christmas” 🙂

kibbie-stockings

Nick was excited to get a new iPad mini.  The new Big Grip case for the iPad mini is called the Big Grip Tweener.  It is much slimmer, more age appropriate in design, and best of all still protects as well as the original Big Grip case.

big-grip-tweener

Nick relishes a nice reflective bag almost as much, as his new iPad mini 🙂

nick-red-bag

Over the holidays, we entertained family and friends.  Nick is use to a certain schedule in the evenings.  It can be tricky to get him to stretch out the time, once the sun goes down. He was very patient and social during happy hour, and a leisurely dinner.  Inevitably, once the meal is over, he wastes no time.  He springs up, grabs his Little Debbie snack cakes and evening meds, then sets them on the kitchen island.  After dessert, he will beeline upstairs, strips off his clothes and is ready for a shower.

beelinne-pic

At the family gathering,  we tried stalling him while the desserts were being passed and the coffee was brewing.  I made the mistake of setting the Swiss Cake Rolls and meds off to the side for just a few more minutes.  Nick would have no part of this, and let it be known.  He took his iPad mini and did a huge karate chop right into the……

nick-pumpkin-pie

Nick was done!  We deflected the incident with an “uh-oh” comment and swiftly got his snack cakes back, to avoid a meltdown.  Sometimes, you have to compromise on your holiday schedule, and respect your child’s need to keep a consistent routine.

After the holidays, Al and I went on his company’s year in trip incentive to Costa Rica.  Nick was in very good hands with his respite care giver, Jodi. There was a good amount of logistics to do when leaving your child with a caregiver.  We put together temporary custody, child care and medical authorization agreements along with a detailed schedule.  In addition,  I prepared a social story so that he could see the change in routine and his schedule.  Here it is in part, below.  Social stories help to give the blueprint for understanding schedules and what each day will bring.  For more on using visual schedules, check out my last post, Blog #164~Why Use a Visual Schedule?

costa-rica-social-story

Nick had so much fun with Jodi going out to eat and hanging out at home. His other respite care giver, Miss R. also took him out over the weekend. We are blessed to have such caring, capable, and patient women to take such great care of Nick.

Want more pictures and videos of Nick?  Check out our social media sites. Follow Nick: Facebook @Down syndrome With a Slice of Autism, Instagram  #nickdsautism, Twitter @ #tjunnerstall

nick-taco-bell-new

All in all, the holidays and extended vacation afterwards went smoothly,  with only a dented pumpkin pie, and a few more attention seeking behaviors.  Most of these included higher incidences of dropping/ throwing things, turning water faucets on, and peeing on the floor next to the toilet.  Those behaviors are to be expected with busy holiday meal and house preparations,  a house full of company, and changes in routine.

Oh, one more thing, Nick managed to pull another fire alarm on  Friday the 13th. That is, the ultimate attention seeking behavior!  Tally count is now at 43 pulls since third grade. Hey, it’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up.

Here’s to getting back to a regular routine and settling into 2017.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

 

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Education and Special Needs, Feeding, Personal Hygiene, Toileting, Parenting Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #164~Why Use a Visual Schedule?

doctor-checkup

Blog #164~Why Use a Visual Schedule?

We all hate getting lost, it can be aggravating  and nervewracking. That’s why we use maps to help navigate our way.

mapquest

The same is true for a child with special needs who lacks verbal and cognitive skills.  Providing a visual schedule allows your child to see what is going to happen in their day. My son, Nick is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism. Visual schedules provide many benefits for him to travel smoothly, through his daily routine.

Nick fist bump AID

Benefits of Using a Visual Schedule:

*Provides structure and predictability by showing a child what is coming up next.  This greatly reduces anxiety and builds confidence.

*Helps with transitions from one activity to the next.

*Picture form is easier to understand than verbal instructions.  Children with autism often comprehend pictures and/or written directions easier than verbal cues alone.

*Helps to teach sequence of events especially when using words, “first”, “next”, and “last”.

*Expedites learning routines and fosters independence in self-help/hygiene skills and household/school jobs.

handwashing-routine

*Helps with time management and literacy development by reading through pictures and words associated with them.

*Improves conversation skills by giving a visual framework of what they did and what was their favorite part of the end of the day.

*Assists teachers and caregivers with routine changes, when things get out of sync.  It also helps to introduce a new and/or different activity.

dentist-checkup-visual

Visual schedules come in all shapes and forms and many are available in Google images.  You can adjust the length and type of images, (PECS-Picture Exchange System, photos, written words,  iPad/ smart phone apps) to what your child will most easily understand.

first-then-app

It’s best to start with a small routine and adapt the schedules based on your child’s needs and abilities. Try pairing a non-preferred activity (first) followed by a preferred choice (next).  Your child’s speech therapist can be of great help in creating picture sequences that would fit their needs.

Going through a visual schedule with your child, helps them understand what is going to happen, and what behavior you expect.

Here is one we use when going to the mall.  Note the visual below has going to the stores (first)  and Taco Bell (next) as the preferred activity.

IMG_3865

Sequence for going to church:

photo (106)

Full Day Schedule: ( Note, this could be broken up in separate pieces if this would be to overwhelming).

visual-schedule-for-a-day

Using visual schedules have been shown to be helpful for children and adults with special needs by giving them more control on what goes on in their daily lives.  It provides the road map to navigate for a smooth ride through their daily routines.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

@Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism on Facebook and Pinterest

#nickdsautism on Instagram

@tjunnerstall on Twitter

 

 

 

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

Blog #163~Safety & Your Special Needs Child

autism-elope

Blog #163~Safety and Your Special Needs Child

I’ve written a few posts about elopement in past blogs. The terror of losing a child is unlike anything else.  My son Nick has Down syndrome and autism, and I know first hand how that feels.  It is essential to put safety measures in place to prevent wandering/elopement.  This week’s blog is about safety and prevention measures from a police officer’s perspective.

police-car

Recently at the National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) retreat, a presentation was given by a NADS member, who is a police officer.  Some of the key points made were on safety and  wandering/elopement prevention.  Seatbelts alone don’t always work for older kids with special needs.  There are many seat belt locks available as well as bigger car seats for children over 65 pounds, which have  5 point restraint.

5-point-harness

There were several suggestions given to promote safety, and prevent elopement.  Putting stop icons on all doors, using door/window alarms,  and changing the locks or moving them higher.  It might also be necessary, (especially if your child is non-verbal), to invest in a tracking device/bracelet and an identification bracelet.  Some police departments have tracking devices available.  For more detailed information on this, type in “Blog #142” in the search engine on the top, right side.  Blog #142, gives specifics on elopement and autism.

caretrak bracelet

Nick wears a medic alert bracelet that stays securely on.  Information on the back includes his name, medic alert number, Down syndrome, autism and non-verbal.

medic-alert

Check with your local police department about getting in the data base to provide more detailed information about your child with special needs.  Here in Illinois, the Premise Alert was mandated, in 2009. The Illinois Premise Alert Program (Public Act 96-0788) provides for Public Safety Agencies in the State of Illinois to allow people with special needs to provide information to Police, Fire and EMS personnel to be kept in a database.

In addition to the  Illinois Premise Alert Program, a new program aims to take 9-1-1 a step further. Smart911 is a program that supplies 9-1-1 operators with detailed personal information, including names of family members, photos, allergies, pets and more.

smart911

Smart911 is available in participating dispatch centers across the United States.Smart911 enhances the information that a 911 call can provide and helps first responders help you faster during an emergency.  Citizens create an online profile through a secure website at www.Smart911.com. This profile contains information that might be important in an emergency. If you place a 911 call anywhere within the county, your profile is displayed to the 911 dispatcher at the Emergency Communications Center, and the information is relayed to first responders.  Smart 911 is a national service that is available free to everyone. The service can be especially valuable to households with young children, seniors, or anyone with a physical or mental disability.

It is essential to take precautions to promote the utmost safety and security for you child with special needs.  Especially if they are non-verbal and have no concept of how to keep themselves out of harms way.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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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 🙂

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