Posted in Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Feeding, Personal Hygiene, Toileting, Independent living skills, Parenting Special Needs, Self-care for special needs parents

Blog #252~DS-ASD:Teaching Personal Hygiene and Independent Living Skills at Home

Blog #252~DS-ASD:Teaching Personal Hygiene and Independent Living Skills at Home

The importance of teaching personal hygiene and other independent living skills at home can’t be emphasized enough. Parents, caregivers, teachers and aides are all on the front lines to support individuals with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). My son Nick is 29 years old and has DS-ASD, and honestly one of the most challenging areas to teach is personal hygiene. One thing that I have learned over the years is that it is never to early or late to work on these skills. This week we will examine specific skills and strategies to teach your loved one with DS-ASD.

Personal Hygiene and Independent Living Skills at Home:

*Using the toilet

*Putting clothes in the hamper/ hanging up towel

*Picking out clothes to wear/ dressing skills

*Brushing Teeth/ flossing

*Washing hands & face

*Putting on deodorant


*Beauty Regimens

*Menstrual cycle cleanliness

*Bathing/ showering & drying off

*Brushing hair

*Blowing nose

*Clipping nails/ tolerating and desensitizing nail clipping

From the list above, consider the strengths of your child, start with a more preferred activity and build from there. Offer support using visuals or visual modeling with breakdown of the steps. Here are a few examples, many of which you can get from Google Images and YouTube. Consider whether the child responds better to understanding actual photographs, videos or Picture Exchange Communication(PECS) Symbols. Many speech and occupational therapists have visual supports that they can share with you. So, be sure to ask your child’s school or private therapists for these as well.

Washing Hands Routine:

Shaving Photo Visuals on a Key Ring:

Video Modeling of Brushing Teeth:

Over the years, we have used all of these visual supports and modeling techniques to teach these tasks. It can be very beneficial to work with a BCBA behaviorist who can help target skills, breakdown the steps and practice on a consistent basis. The BCBA can also build in schedules and rewards to help support and motivate your child.

Here are some great resources for teaching personal hygiene and boundaries by author Mary Wrobel:

Independent living, hygiene and home management skills help to build confidence, a sense of ownership and belonging. Building these skills sets will give your child more jobs/day program and housing options when they become an adult.

To view more independent living skills click on the two previous blogs:

We hope that you have gained some insight and strategies for building independence from the past three blogs #250-252. Our goal and passion is to make this road of a dual diagnosis easier for other families. We also want to inspire you as a parent, teacher or caregiver to help your child reach their full potential. ๐Ÿ™‚

For more information on navigating co-occurring DS-ASD in my book. Click here to order:

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa ๐Ÿ™‚

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Parenting Special Needs, Self-care for special needs parents

Blog #228~DS-ASD: Parenting During the COVID-19 Crisis

Blog #228~DS-ASD: Parenting During the COVID-19 Crisis

How’s everyone doing at home during this COVID-19 Crisis? The new normal of staying at home has it’s challenges, especially when you have a child with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). My son Nick is 26 years old and usually attends a daily adult developmental day training program. The structure and routine provides meaning to his life. But the Coronavirus has taken that away from him and all of us. So now what? I wish that I could wave a magic wand and show you how to navigate through this quarantine with your kids. I can only offer my perspective on parenting a child with DS-ASD this week. I’ll keep it short, because I suspect we are all overwhelmed.

Last week’s blog provided daily independent living skills ideas to work on at home with your child. Nick did great helping out and I posted daily videos of him in action on our social media sites. We will continue these living skills and also do some activity bins: Home School Activity Ideas:

I think it’s important to cut ourselves some slack right now. This is uncharted territory for all of us.ย 

Here are 5 things I am keeping in my noggin this week, to help navigate thru the COVID-19 Crisis:

*1-Remember to respond and not react when your child gets frustrated, bored and overwelmed. One of the lessons I offer in my book A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism (click here to order ) is the following: “Remain calm and matter of fact. You must be a constant in a sea of uncertainty”

*2-Do what you can and don’t beat yourself up. This isn’t the time to put pressure on yourself to play all the roles of a teacher, OT, PT, speech and behavior therapist. Take this opportunity to have fun with your kids and naturally build in learning and interaction around activities that they enjoy. We’ve been turning off Fox News and CNN and instead, snuggling under a blanket and watching old movies that Nick and his older brother Hank enjoyed growing up.

*3-Get some exercise! As a 35 year fitness professional I promise it will boost your immune system and elevate your mood. Go Noodle learning stations has some fun, free movement videos you can do with your kids:

*4-I keep reminding myself that we are all in this together and that gives me comfort. It also helps me to tap into a memory that I’ve personally suffered through a lot worse. In August of 1983, Hurricane Alicia left us paralyzed and without electricity for 2 long, HOT weeks down in Houston, Texas. Oh, and thank goodness for humor and all the funny memes being shared on social media ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

*5-What am I doing today to make things better for myself and others? ๐Ÿ™‚

daily quarantine questions

So, these are the 5 things I am keeping in mind to navigate what appears to be a marathon of social isolation during the Coronavirus crisis. I wish each of you wellness and peace in your homes with your family and plenty of toilet paper for all. We can do this, we’re all in this together!

That’s what is in my noggin this week. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Twitter @tjunnerstall





Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Parenting Special Needs, Self-care for special needs parents

Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions:Here’s a Better Idea!

Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions: Here’s a Better Idea!

2020 plan

Happy New Year! It’s time to clear the decks and start fresh.๐Ÿ™‚ How many times have you made a new year’s resolution and failed to keep it? As a 35+year fitness professional and mother of a son with special needs (DS-ASD), here is my advice: Ditch the old school resolutions and try a different approach!

Here’s what I’ve got for you to get started:

*Great self-care tips and easy ways to build in healthy habits.

*Quick, easy andย  practical ways to get back into fitness.

*Simple approaches to help your child with special needs to gain independent living skills.

Click on this link to read how to make a new plan for 2020:

Let’s do this, 2020 is going to be a great year! That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa ๐Ÿ™‚

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Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With a Slice of Autism

Instagram @nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall