Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Blog #189~Buddy Up Tennis

Blog #189~Buddy Up Tennis

Buddy Up Tennis Logo

I had the pleasure of observing the Buddy Up Tennis program over the past weekend. Buddy Up Tennis is a high-energy, adaptive tennis and fitness program for children and young adults with Down syndrome.  They provide fun and rewarding 90-minute clinics on a weekly basis.  The program currently serves 550 individuals ages five to young adults with Down syndrome across the country.

The program I visited was Buddy Up Tennis Naperville in Illinois, located at Five Star Tennis Center.  Athletes are divided into 3 groups according to age and ability.  They kick off the morning with a warmup and fitness component.  Each participant is paired with a volunteer buddy.  Everyone gets a chance to throw the dice and perform a variety of exercises together like toe touches, arm circles, sit-ups, jumping jacks and push-ups.

fitness dice

After the warm-up and calisthenics, the participants move to circuit training.  Stations are set up focus on balance, agility, hand-eye coordination and upper body movements that mimic tennis strokes and serves.

Balance Work Stations…..

Buddy Up Balance

The tennis serve motion is mimicked by throwing a football through the hoops.  Balls are thrown from the hip on both sides of the body into a basket to work on the forehand and backhand movements……

Buddy Up Hoops

Other stations include using an agility ladder, cones, balance beam and tug of war.  All of these work on each component of fitness, as related to playing tennis.

Following the fitness segment, the groups work on tennis strokes and games.  The younger players used smaller nets and foam transition balls which are easier to hit.

gamma-tennis-revolution-ball.jpg

The player’s ages 10 and up, worked on forehand and backhand volleys.  Coaches use the cues,  “Squash the bug”, No swinging” and “High five it” to teach proper form on volleys.  The athletes had fun trying to win a prize by hitting a target on the court.  After volleys, the group worked on overheads, with the coaches using cues like, “Point the left arm to the ball, and hit the ball at the highest point”.

It was wonderful to see the players working hard and enjoying the experience with their fellow teammates, buddies, and coaches.  The staff and volunteers were so encouraging and positive.  There were lots of high fives, smiles, cheering and laughter.  Buddy Up Tennis helps players build fitness, tennis skills, friendships, and cooperation.  These life skills are valuable both on and off the court.

For more information about Buddy Up Tennis visit their website: http://buddyuptennis.com/

tennis racket

I highly recommend this program and look forward to taking my son, Nick next week.  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 Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

Blog #188~Down syndrome Awareness Month-5 Takeaways

Blog #188~Down syndrome Awareness Month-5 Takeaways

DSAwarenessMagnet

As October and Down syndrome Awareness Month, comes to an end, I want to leave you with 5 things takeaways to keep in mind, and share with others about Down syndrome!

1. Babies with Down syndrome have low muscle tone (know as Hypotonia).  This effects motor and oral motor development.  It will take them a little longer to talk, walk, and eat the same foods as others.  Early intervention with physical, occupational and speech therapy play a big part in growth and progress in these milestones.

2. People with Down syndrome aren’t ‘always happy’.  They have feelings just like everyone else.

3. People with Down syndrome will share some common features.  A few of these include low muscle tone, smaller in stature, almond-shaped eyes, tiny white (Brushfield) spots in the iris, a crease running in the palm of their hand, a gap between big and second toe.  But they will more closely resemble their immediate family members.

My son, Nick has low muscle tone.  We propped him in the high chair supported by pillows…..

nick-low-tone-high-chair

4. People with Down syndrome can’t be ”more Downs’ than another.  As with everyone else, each person with Down syndrome has their own strengths, weaknesses, talents and abilities.

Nick loves swimming and even tried scuba diving.  He also has many jobs both at home and in his adult day program he attends……..

Diveheart 2013 336     Nick cleaning GiGi's

5. Please use ‘people first’ language, a person has or with Down syndrome. NOT a Down’s child or the Down syndrome kid. Down syndrome does not define who they are!

Actor and advocate, Chris Burke…..

Chris Burke quote

Spreading awareness and information helps others to become more understanding and accepting of individuals with Down syndrome, and their contributions to society.  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 Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

Blog #187~Artist With Down syndrome Captures Amazing Images

Blog #187~Artist With Down syndrome Captures Amazing Images

Geoffrey Mikol

I had the pleasure of meeting Geoffrey Mikol, who is a professional artist, over the past weekend.  Geoffrey owns River Bend Gallery, which is located in Galena, Illinois.  He is 23 years old and as a person born with Down syndrome, Geoffrey has a natural talent of capturing images in nature.  He studied photography since high school, and his fine artwork is incredible.  What draws your eye to his work, is how he captures the light and beauty uniquely in each piece.

Geoffrey Mikol, artist:

Geoffrey Mikol picture

Geoffrey warmly greets everyone outside his gallery and his work speaks for itself.  He is an award-winning photographer who started selling his work 10 years ago, in the Chicagoland area.

River Bend Gallery

Visiting River Bend Gallery and meeting Geoffrey and his family was a real highlight to the Galena trip.  You can feel the serenity in his work and a warmth when you enter River Bend Gallery.

To view more images click here- https://www.riverbendgalleries.com/ and follow on Facebook at River Bend Gallery.  There are prints, calendars, coaster sets and greeting cards available for purchase.  They would be great Christmas gifts for family, friends, teachers, aids and therapists.

That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa 🙂

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Education and Special Needs

Blog #186~Down syndrome:How to Promote Inclusiveness in School

Blog #186~Down syndrome: How to Promote Inclusiveness in School

DSAwarenessMagnet     Peer Partners

October is Down syndrome Awareness Month.  This is an ideal time to promote inclusiveness in your child’s school.  Forming a partnership with your child’s education team is the key to a successful inclusion experience.

Here are a few resources and suggestions on how to advocate for inclusion in your child’s school environment and classroom:

*Send an “All About Me” introduction about your child to the teacher.  There are many ideas, templates and apps that are available online.  This is especially helpful, if your child’s speech is limited or non-verbal.

all about me app

*Share inclusion resources with your child’s teacher:

  • Meaningful Inclusion for Students With Down Syndrome: A Resource for Elementary Educators. http://www.mdsc.org/infojustforyou/EdManual.cfm
  • The Inclusive Class: http://www.theinclusiveclass.com/
  • Inclusion in the Classroom-Tips and Resources: http://allbornin.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Inclusion_Classroom_Tips.pdf
  • Donate books to the library and classroom:               I can Can you  Paint the Octopus Red  My Friend has DS

*Topics on Down Syndrome, that are helpful for teaching from Woodbine House Publishing: http://www.woodbinehouse.com/  Books related to Down syndrome are ON SALE during the month of October!

Whole Child Reading         Down syndrome and autism intersect2      Teaching Math to DS        fine motor skills and DS

Working with the school team to promote an understanding about Down syndrome, and a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism has many benefits.  It will help students in general education classes feel less anxious and reduce misconceptions they may have had.  Building this bridge together, will lead to a meaningful learning experience for everyone in the school.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

Facebook & Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instgram@ #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down syndrome Awareness Month

DS-Awareness-Month

October is Down syndrome Awareness Month.  I’ve had the privilege of raising my son,  for the past 23 years.  Nick has Down syndrome and autism. He has touched my life, and those of so many others along the way.

nick-senior-alarm-pic

Down syndrome awareness is about promoting acceptance and inclusion of all individuals with Down syndrome.

FACTS about Down syndrome from National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS):

*Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

*There are three types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21 (nondisjunction) accounts for 95 percent of cases, translocation accounts for about 4 percent and mosaicism accounts for about 1 percent.

*Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.

*There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.

*Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.

*The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80 percent of children with Down syndrome are born to women younger than 35.

*People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.

*A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.

*Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades — from 25 years old in 1983 to 60 years old today.

*People with Down syndrome attend school, work and participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.

*All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.

*Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.

More information @http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/

NDSS_logo

Here are a few simple ways to promote Down syndrome awareness:

*Post something about Down syndrome on social media

*Send updates, pictures and tell your story to your family doctor and OB-gyn.

*Many local Down syndrome support groups have promotional materials, like books and bookmarks that can be distributed at libraries and schools.

*Many local DS support groups have public speakers who can talk to schools, businesses, community groups, hospitals, and other organizations.

*Support or volunteer for local fundraisers like the Buddy Walk in your community @http://www.ndss.org/buddy-walk/

*Encourage your kids to volunteer for Special Olympics and Best Buddies programs through their school.

Down syndrome journey

Thank you for supporting Down syndrome awareness this month!  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

Blog #181~Iceland and Down syndrome

Blog #181~Iceland and Down syndrome

Last week CBS News ran a story about Down syndrome in Iceland. The CBS report opens like this:
“With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.”

cbsn-oa-agusta

“On 14 August 2017, CBS News ran a segment for their program “CBSN: On Assignment” in which correspondent Elaine Quijano traveled to Iceland to report on that country’s disappearing incidence of Down syndrome. Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women — close to 100 percent — who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.”

To view the story click here:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/down-syndrome-iceland/

I’m going to throw my two cents in about this news story. This week’s blog is not a debate about a moral decision of whether to choose to have a baby with Down syndrome. It’s not my place to comment if someone decides to terminate a pregnancy for whatever reason.  I can only speak from own experience of having a child with Down syndrome. My son Nick is 23 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.

There are 3 comments that I would like to make regarding this news story:

*1. Expectant parents should first do their research first and get the facts. Doctors often know little about Down syndrome beyond their own medical experience. The delivery of news about the possibility of a baby having Down syndrome is often delivered grimly and with pity. This was the case in my son. I would like to see the medical community and society to become more educated on Down syndrome. When you know the facts, you can make an informed decision that is not based on fear.

Here are a few good places to get the facts about Down syndrome:
http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/Down-Syndrome-Facts/
http://www.ndsccenter.org/new-and-expectant-parents/
*2. Down syndrome in and of itself, is nothing to fear. Yes, there are health issues associated with Down syndrome. Click here to view: http://www.ndss.org/Resources/Health-Care/Associated-Conditions/

A baby with Down syndrome may take a little longer to reach developmental milestones. But, with early intervention with physical, occupational and speech therapy can guide a baby/child with Down syndrome to hit those marks.  Sometimes, we fear what we don’t know or understand.  When you get educated about the facts, it will help to reduce the fear.

*3. Society needs to see more of what Down syndrome looks like. Persons with Down syndrome are people first! “The Emmy winning A&E show, Born this Way follows a group of seven young adults born with Down syndrome as they pursue their passions and lifelong dreams, explore friendships, romantic relationships and work, all while defying society’s expectations.”  I wish the whole world could have access to this great show! Click here for more information: http://www.aetv.com/shows/born-this-way

btway

Another excellent site I highly recommend is Noah’s Dad!  I’ve had the extreme pleasure of following Noah’s Dad and his journey with his son, who in entering first grade this year. He gives us a view of how full, and rich their lives are having Noah in it. You can find Noah’s Dad-Down Syndrome Awareness on Facebook and at http://noahsdad.com/

You can also follow my son, Nick on Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism, Instagram @nickdsautism and Twitter #tjunnerstall

Nick scuba diving in the Diveheart program……

Diveheart 2013 336

Down syndrome is nothing to be feared once you know the facts, and see what the lives of these wonderful individuals are like. It has been a true privilege being Nick’s mom. He has taught me more about life, and made me a much better person in the process. I couldn’t imagine a world without people like Nick and others, who have Down syndrome.  I’m 100% sure that anyone who has been touched by Nick, would say the same.

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

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #171~Rocking the Socks, and Helping Twice

Blog #171~Rocking the Socks, and Helping Twice

wehelptwo

The first part of rocking the funky socks campaign was to promote awareness on World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), held each year on 3/21. The second part was for every pack that we sold, We Help Two donated a pair of warm, thermal socks which we donated to a local homeless shelter in our community.

My son Nick is 23 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  The sock campaign raised $500.00 which we donated to Chicago based, The National Association for Down Syndrome, (NADS) http://www.nads.org.

world-down-syndrome-day

Last week, we took a full box of 59 pair of thermal socks donated by We Help Two, over to the Hesed House in Aurora, IL.  We Help Two partners with schools, organizations, individuals and non-profits to make twice the difference.

Nick Hessed House 2

 “The Hesed House is the second largest shelter in the State of Illinois, and the largest shelter outside of the city of Chicago. With the help of professional staff, alliances with outside agencies and 6,000 volunteers from 70 area churches, almost one thousand individuals (including 188 children) are served each year through Hesed House’s shelter and three housing programs. Hesed House sees 16 newly homeless individuals each week – that’s one new homeless individual every 8 1/2 hours. Hesed House strives to get 16 or 17 individuals out of homelessness each week.” 

hesed house logo

The Hesed House is not just a homeless shelter.  Besides providing shelter and supportive living, they also have employment training and education, along with medical assistance, counseling for substance abuse and mental illness, and offer state legal services.

Nick and I were pleased to pay it forward, with the donation of new thermal socks to Hesed House, courtesy of We Help Two.  For more information visit their website at http://www.wehelptwo.com.

Nick and Mom at Hessed House 2

A special thank you to Bethany from We Help Two, for reaching out to us for WDSD, to host a “Rock the Socks” campaign.  We Help Two is making a difference!   We were very happy to partner with them. Nick and I want to thank everyone who purchased and rocked the funky socks, and helped us make twice the difference.  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 Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

We Rocked the Socks!

We Rocked the Socks!

rock your socks

Just three weeks ago, I started a campaign centered around World Down Syndrome Day to raise awareness and funds for The National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS), which is our local support group here in Chicago.  I was approached by We Help Two, which sells these funky socks online.  With each pack purchased, We Help Two donates 60% to NADS.  On top of this, We Help Two also donates a pair of thermal socks which Nick and I will be taking to our local homeless shelter.  My son Nick is 23 years old, he has Down syndrome and autism.

IMG01

We have exciting news to share.  After just three weeks in this campaign, we raised $513.00 for The National Association for Down Syndrome!  In addition, 57 people will receive warm socks at our local homeless shelter. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Look who’s rocking the socks……

Nick with his respite workers 🙂

nick jodi kelsey socks

Me rocking the socks……

Me funky socks

Nick’s Aunt and Uncle in Texas 🙂

scott and laura socks

Nick’s Dad with Hormel Food Service group…

Hormel funky socks

My fitness class buddies 🙂

studio one socks

Nick’s respite caregiver, Miss R rocking the socks….

Miss R socks

Nick’s brother and his girlfriend….

hank socks

There’s still a few days left if you would like to order your 3 pack of funky socks, for $15 plus S&H click here:

Order Funky Socks:  https://my.wehelptwo.com/campaign?reset=1&id=373

A special thanks to We Help Two for a WONDERFUL campaign. It was super easy to set online, and the socks are shipped and at your door in two days!  I highly recommend this company.  We Help Two partners with schools, organizations, individuals and non-profits to make twice the difference.  They are truly making a difference by raising funds for organizations, and giving back to the community, with thermal sock donations to local homeless shelters.  What an impact they make, by helping two ways!

wehelptwo

For more information about We Help Two follow on Facebook and click here https:// www.wehelptwo.com

I want to thank everyone for being a part of this campaign, rocking those socks and supporting Down syndrome awareness by purchasing socks and promoting World Down Syndrome Day on social media. Stay tuned for a future blog, when Nick and I take the thermal socks to our local homeless shelter.

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 Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

World Down Syndrome Day

world-down-syndrome-day

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), observed on 21 March every year, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.  On this day, people with Down syndrome and those who live and work with them throughout the world organize and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness and create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well-being of people with Down syndrome. Many of these events are recorded on the official World Down Syndrome Day website.  The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

DSAwarenessMagnet

WDSD 2017 Call to action is, #MyVoiceMyCommunity – Enabling people with Down syndrome to speak up, be heard and influence government policy and action, to be fully included in the community.  For more information visit: http://www.worlddownsyndromeday.org

My son Nick, is 23 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  He participates fully in an adult day program, with enriching activities in the facility as well as the community, including volunteer jobs.

IMG01

We can all help to promote awareness on social media and spread a positive message for  people with Down syndrome.

Thank you to everyone who ordered funky socks from WeHelpTwo.  Our campaign helped to raise money for The National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS), http://www.nads.org, here in the Chicago area.  In addition, WeHelpTwo  is donating a pair of thermal socks for every pack we sold to our local homeless shelter.  The campaign ends at the end of this month.

warm-sock-photo

To order socks click here:  https://my.wehelptwo.com/campaign?=1&id=373

Nick and I can’t wait to see you all rock your funky socks, tomorrow.  Please post your pictures on our social media sites below!

Together, we can create a loud voice for better understanding, and advocating for rights, inclusion, and well-being for people having Down syndrome.  That’s what’s in my noggin this week.

wdsd2016

~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, 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