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

Blog #192~Down syndrome-Autism: Green Monday Gift Ideas

Blog #192~Down syndrome-Autism:Green Monday Gift Ideas

green-monday

It’s green Monday and just two weeks until Christmas.  Here are some gift ideas for individuals having Down syndrome (or a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, or other special needs) along with their caregivers, teachers/aids, and therapists.

http://papercloudsapparel.com/  Order T-shirts, hats and totes designed by artists with special needs

My son Nick, wearing a Paper Clouds Apparel shirt designed by Justin Lundeen…

nick fire truck shirt

https://www.riverbendgalleries.com/  Features the beautiful photography of artist, Geoffrey Mikol prints, framed art, calendars, coaster sets and greeting cards are available for purchase online….

Geoffrey Mikol picture    Geoffrey Mikol

http://specialsparkle.com Kelly is a young entrepreneur who has Down syndrome.  She designs and makes fashionable jewelry you can order online….

special sparkle jewelry

http://www.christianroyalpottery.com/pages/about  Beautiful pottery (bowls, platters, plates, jewelry) by Christian Royal…..

 

 

One of the best gifts is an iPad and there are countless apps for learning and play.  If you are looking for a sturdy case, the Go Talk Rugged and Big Grip cases have held up the best…..  

 

If your child has sensory needs, and likes to do a lot of dropping, check out these toys:

vortx-dropping-coins  marble racemagic-tracks-mega-set-360-piece--A817AA38.zoom

Gifts ideas in located in the archives, type this in the search box: Blog #131~Christmas Ideas for a Child With Special Needs…..

 

Gift ideas for babies and toddlers with Down syndrome: http://www.cedarsstory.com/?s=Best+Gift+Ideas

Noah’s Dad- Down syndrome Awareness Top 10 gifts for a 7 year old: http://noahsdad.com/7-year-old-gift-ideas/

Books for caregivers and families, here are a few suggestions and there are more listed in this Blog #144~ Inspiring Books Related to Down syndrome located in the archives……

 

Gifts book cover    Book An Uncomplicated Life  down syndrome and autism intersect

Please feel free to share this, and any of my blogs with others and on social media.  Also, check out my Pinterest page for more gift recommendations and other helpful information. Do you have any gift suggestions? I’m always looking for unique gift ideas related to Down syndrome and autism to post on my website.  Nick and I wish you all the best as you are preparing to enjoy the holiday season.

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

~Teresa

Follow Nick on Social Media:

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 Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Winter 2017 Update

Winter 2017 Update

I hesitate to call this a “winter” update, as we’ve been enjoying a string of mild, 65 degree days here in the Chicago area.

Hot tub in February, no jacket required…..

nick-hot-tub-feb

My son Nick, just celebrated his 23rd birthday a few weeks ago.  He has Down syndrome and autism.  He has been going to an adult day program, for the past year.  The program offers a variety of enriching activities, which he completely enjoys.  In addition, Nick does many community outings with his awesome respite caregivers, Jodi and Lara.  They go out to eat at a variety of restaurants, to the movies, library, and parks.  Nick loves being out and about, in the community.

We have been very active in our local Down syndrome support group, The National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS).  Even before we relocated to the Chicago area, NADS was instrumental in providing information and support for us.  They have been a vital resource for our family, and many others in the Chicagoland area.  To find our more information about The National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS), click here: http://www.nads.org.

nads-logo

The NADS Bowl-A-Thon event, is coming up on March 5th.  This event, is the single largest fundraiser for NADS.  This year, Nick has a fundraising page for his bowling team. You can click on the link to support Nick’s Elbow Bumpers Team and NADS:

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/nick-unnerstall/nads-32nd-annual-bowl-a-thon 

Big Guy’s signature elbow bump with his brother, Hank…..

nick-and-bro-x-mas

One more update, I want to briefly mention is coming up on March 21st, which is World Down Syndrome Day. 

world-down-syndrome-day

“World Down Syndrome Day is observed on March 21. 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.”

One of the trademarks of World Down Syndrome Day, is rocking your socks!  This year I am working on partnership to raise money and awareness for Down syndrome, where you can purchase some funky socks.  I’ll be posting more information about this next week, on this site and the social media sites listed below. Stay tuned……

funky-socks

The Down syndrome community has supported Nick and our family, so much over the past 23 years.  These fundraising efforts are the least that we can do to give back, and help other families going down the same path. Having a community of support has helped us to navigate Nick’s world. Now at age 23, Nick is a very happy, young man who enjoys life.  That certainly brings a smile to my face. 🙂

nick-smiling

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, 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, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Parenting Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #147~A Father’s Perspective on Special Needs

Blog #147~A Father’s Perspective on Special Needs

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19th!  As I did for Mother’s Day (Blog #144), this week features books written by fathers who have children with special needs.  My son Nick is 22 years old, he has Down syndrome and autism.  I am always searching for new information and gaining different perspectives.  If you are looking for a male/father perspective check out the book list below.  In addition, here are two dads that I recommend  following on Facebook.  Their websites are also included:

“Noah’s Dad” (Noah is 5 years old and has Down syndrome) http://www.noahsdad.com

“Autism Daddy” (Kyle aka “The King” is 12 years old and has severe autism and is nonverbal).  http://www.theautismdaddy.com. 

Books written by fathers who have children with special needs:

Austin, Paul: Beautiful Eyes: A Father Transformed (W.W. Norton, 2014).  A father reflects on his journey with his daughter with Down syndrome, beginning with her birth and ending with her life as a young adult living in a group home.

Daugerty, Paul: An Uncomplicated Life: A Father’s Memoir of His Exceptional Daughter (Harper Collins, 2015).  A father celebrates his daughter’s accomplishments, from childhood through college and impending marriage, and the joy she has brought to her family and those around her.

Book An Uncomplicated Life

Estreich, George:  The Shape of the Eye: Down Syndrome, Family and the Stories We Inherit (Southern Methodist University Press, 2011).  A poet reflects on the many influences of family after the birth of his daughter with Down syndrome.

Palmer, Greg: Adventures in the Mainstream: Coming of Age with Down Syndrome 2nd Edition (Bennett and Hastings Publishing, 2012).  Palmer’s memoir about his son’s transition from high school to the world of work, now updated with reflections on their family’s experiences since the original edition was first released.

Sagmiller, G.: Dakota’s Pride the Book: One Father’s Search for the Truth about Down Syndrome (The Gifted Learning Project, 2014). The book version of the documentary featuring questions and answers with professionals and parents of children with Down syndrome.

Taddei, S.R.: Room 47: Down Syndrome-A New Father’s Diary (Viera Press, 2012).  A father publishes reflections about his daughter with Down syndrome drawn from the journals he kept during her first year.

Thank you National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) http://www.nads.org for the book list!

I hope these resources provide insight and inspiration from a father’s perspective. Cheers to you, Dads!  That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa

Nick and his Dad at Hawk’s Cay Resort….

Nick Kiss

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Resources for Special Needs, Uncategorized

Blog #144~Inspiring Books Related to Down Syndrome

Blog #144~Inspiring Books Related to Down Syndrome

As Mother’s Day approaches, I wanted to highlight a few more books.  These books would make a nice gift for a mom who has a child with Down syndrome.  My son Nick is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  It’s been quite a journey, one that I’ve been writing about for several years.  Here are a few books highlighted in this month’s newsletter from the National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) www.nads.org.  Thank you NADS for the great list!  I also added in a couple of more that I found on Amazon:

Adams, Rachel, Raising Henry (Yale University Press, 2013).  A Columbia University professor reflects on raising her son with Down syndrome, on genetic testing and on the paradoxical role of disability in our culture.

Becker, Amy Julia, A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny (Bethany House Publishers, 2011).  The Princeton Theological Seminary graduate explores the changes in her life and faith after the birth of her daughter with Down syndrome.

Groeberg, Jennifer Graf, Road Map to Holland: How I found My Way Through My Son’s First Two Years With Down Syndrome (NAL Trade 2008).  A mother describes the period after her son’s birth.

Hale, Natalie, Down Syndrome Parenting 101: Must-Have Advice for Making Your Life Easier (Woodbine House, 2011).  Practical, uplifting advice covering important issues associated with Down syndrome.

Hampton, Kelle, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected-A Memoir (William Morrow, 2012).  A popular blogger (Enjoying the Small Things) reflects on the changes in her life after the birth of her daughter with Down syndrome.

Lee, Marjorie Sullivan, Bloom where you are Planted (Tau-Publishing, 2012).   The story of her son Kevin, and how their lives were transformed becoming advocates for over four decades.

Murray, Kathleen PhD, Count It All Joy (Westbow Press 2015). A mother’s journey including lessons learned from her son with Down syndrome.

Silverman, Amy, My Heart Can’t Believe It: A Story of Science, Love and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016).  Journalist, blogger and NPR contributor Amy Silverman recounts the impact on her life of the birth of her daughter Sophie, and the gradual evolution of her attitudes about Down syndrome.

Soper, Kathryn, The Year My Son and I Were Born (GPP Life 2010).  A memoir which records the author’s experiences after the birth of her son with Down syndrome.

Soper, Kathryn Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives (Woodbine House, 2007). A collection of personal stories, sixty-three mothers describe the gifts of respect, strength, delight, perspective, and love, which their child with Down syndrome has brought into their lives.

Gifts book cover

Soper, Kathryn Gifts 2 How People With Down Syndrome Enrich the World (Woodbine House, 2009).  The follow-up to the bestselling first volume, Gifts 2 presents a broader perspective on Down syndrome and life by including passionate stories by siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, as well as mothers of older children. Friends, teachers, medical professionals, and coaches also share the joys of knowing and caring for someone with Down syndrome.

The power of a book can give you inspiration and hope.  Back in 1994, when Nick was just a few months old, I found that book.  Count Us In: Growing Up with Down Syndrome (A Harvest Book) was written by two young men, Jason Kingsley and Mitchell Levitz. I clung to every word. They shared their innermost thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams, their lifelong friendship—and their experiences growing up with Down syndrome.  The book is smart, charming, witty and truly shows their full potential. Thank you Jason and Mitchell!

In the current addition, the authors discuss their lives since then—milestones and challenges, developments expected and unexpected—in a new afterword….

Count Us In

Please feel free to share this book list and any of my blogs.  I write to raise awareness, and more important to offer hope and encouragement.  Next month, I will highlight books written by fathers!  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

Follow Nick:

scan0016

Facebook @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

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Posted in Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #143~Count it All Joy Life’s Lessons from a Child with Special Needs

Blog #143~Count It All Joy Life’s Lessons from a Child with Special Needs

This week I wanted to highlight a book I just finished reading.  The book is titled; Count it all Joy- Life’s Lessons from a Child with Special Needs by Kathleen Murray, PhD. 

count it all joy book

Count it All Joy chronicles Kathleen Murray’s candid account of her inner struggles after learning about her son’s diagnoses of Down syndrome, autism and a congenital heart defect.  Her book is a testimony of the life lessons her son, Christian has taught her.  Lessons that she may have not learned had it not been for what many others consider his disabilities.

Each lesson has a heading such as “Doors,” “Heart”, and “Worry” that opens up a different world of caring for a child with special needs.  These lessons are paired with spiritual quotes from scriptures that complement the journey and ultimately the transformation towards unity, happiness, humility and ultimately unconditional love.

Her desire to tell her stories is to let parents and caregivers of a child with special needs know this:  “It’s not going to be okay; it’s going to be better than okay-much, much better!”

In Lesson 3 “Doors” she felt the emotional doors shut immediately upon Christian’s birth.  The doctors could hardly look her straight in the eye, as they delivered the news that he had Down syndrome.  Negative images came into her mind, like he won’t go to college; instead he will pack groceries or wipe tables.  I certainly recall the same scenario when my son Nick was born 22 years ago.  Nick also has Down syndrome and autism.

In Lesson 4 “Locks”, Kathleen writes about the vigilance of being on constant watch of her son.  This is certainly a common theme when taking care of a child with both Down syndrome and autism.  Elopement is a concern, and a topic I covered in last week’s blog.

In Lesson 6 “Eyes” she candidly describes how she disliked Christian’s squinted eyes when he was born.  Again, those negative images bubbled to the surface on what he may never be.  In this lesson you can see her transformation clearly happening.  It is very moving.

These lessons are honest and filled with struggle, grief, humor and hope.  In Lesson 8 “Mirrors”, there is a letting go of those negative images.  You can feel the shift which turns to joy.  “Christian has given me the strength to see him and see myself as God sees us, without labeling, categorizing, or judging, and with pure, unconditional love reflected in our image in the mirror”.  

I appreciate these lessons and can attest to the fact that my son Nick has taught me so much about life and love.  I’m a much better person because of Nick.  Yes there have been struggles, but finding the joy out of them is the most powerful message of all.  Count It All Joy would make a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day.  Signed, personalized copies are available from Dr. Murray by email (kathleenmurray1000@gmail.com) or online at WestBow Press, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. 

Kathleen puts it perfectly, “Choose joy in the face of challenging circumstances in order to live a life of contentment and hope”.  The flower can emerge from the icy ground.  And yes, it is going to be better than okay, much, much better!  That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa 🙂

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pintrest

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #138~10 Sites Featuring Gift Ideas Designed by Persons with Special needs

Blog #138~10 Sites Featuring Gift Ideas Designed by Persons with Special Needs

I love to go shopping especially when I find unique gift ideas.  So this week, I am super excited to share this list of 10 sites that feature the talents by persons with special needs. 🙂  My son Nick is 22 years old.  He has Down syndrome and autism.  Many of the people on this list have Down syndrome or autism.  I am so inspired by their work and can’t wait to add some of these to the cart…..

10 Sites Featuring Gift Ideas Designed by Persons with Special needs:

http://papercloudsapparel.com/ T-shirts, hats and totes designed by artists with special needs

nick fire truck shirt

Nick wearing Paper Clouds Apparel “Fire Truck Shirt” designed by artist Justin Lundeen

http://www.christianroyalpottery.com/pages/about  Beautiful pottery (bowls, platters, plates, jewelry) by Christian Royalt

Pottery   christian royal potttery

 

http://specialsparkle.com Kelly designs and makes fashionable jewelry

http://www.brownbearproducts.com/ Erik Behnke, artist

http://oly-wa.us/dkarts/index.php Dylan Kuehl, artist

http://www.cinnamonsfloridakeysart.com/ Cinnamon Edgar, artist

cinnamon edgar

http://www.inspires2aspire.com/ Cards by Todd Eisinger

http://www.artistmichaeljohnson.com/  Michael Johnson, artist

http://www.Facebook.com/NickBurshArt  Nick Bursh, artist

http://www.simplyadorableblankets.org/ Baby, wedding and stadium blankets

weddingBlk_lrg

I hope you find the work of these artists with special needs inspiring.  Please consider their talents the next time you are looking for a unique gift idea. Let me know if you know of any other talented artists with special needs we can add to this list.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

Follow Nick:

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Posted in Autism, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #131~Christmas Ideas for a Child with Special Needs

Blog #131~ Christmas Ideas for a Special Needs Child

There’s only 11 more shopping days until Christmas. Are you struggling to find a gift for a child with special needs?  My son Nick has Down syndrome and autism.  For 21 years I’ve worried if I was doing enough and finding the right toys to help him thrive while having fun.  You name it we’ve done it from the mini trampoline to Tickle Me Elmo (and every light up, musical toy in between).  🙂

Nick toys

Children with special needs often have sensory issues. They struggle to process sensory information.  Some children are sensitive to touch, while others are sensitive to sounds or lights.  Toys and activities geared to be more visual, tactile, and interactive can help with these sensory issues.  Gifts that appeal to the senses like plushies, figit toys, putty, stress balls and flashlights are popular.

figit toys

Books that have predictable patterns, repetition and rhymes are enjoyable such as the classics like “Good Night Moon,” “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” and Dr. Seuss books. Interactive books can help with language skills.

talk

Puzzles can help with fine motor and cognitive skills.  Many have sound bites to provide additional feedback.

soundpuzzle

More gift ideas………

*Music table

music table

*Art easel

*Vibrating pillow

*Air hockey

*Musical animals

music animals

*Musical trampoline

trampoline

*Solar System in My Room

solar system

*Tranquil turtle

tranquil turtle

*Putty (www.puttyworld.com) It glows and changes colors!

puttyworld

You can find these gifts on the Amazon and Toy R Us websites. There are many more ideas at www.nationalautismresources.com.  Also, I have a resource page listed on this Wordpress site.

Holiday Ideas from Suburban Pediatric Therapies (where Nick goes to speech and occupational therapy):holiday gifts spt

 

Cheers to a fun filled holiday season for your child with special needs. I hope these gift ideas will help make the season a little brighter. Thank you to all the parents and therapists who helped to contribute to the gift list.   That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

 

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Resources for Special Needs

Down Syndrome Awareness Month (Re-blog)

 

Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Photo on 2011-06-12 at 18 01 #4

Nick says yay and thumbs up!  October is Down syndrome Awareness Month.  Here is a blog I did a few years ago that will open your eyes to Down syndrome @ https://nickspecialneeds.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/blog-26-down-s…wareness-month/

Thank you for reading and sharing Nick’s world.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂