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

DS-ASD, Nick’s Spring Update

DS-ASD, Nick’s Spring Update

spring flowers

The trees and flowers are budding and blooming here in the Chicago area.  A long overdue, and highly anticipated spring has finally arrived.  Here is what my son, Nick has been up to this spring.  Nick is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

Nick attends an adult day program which provides enrichment activities both in-house and out in the community.  The structured curriculum and schedule of this program serves Nick, and his fellow clients well.  Community trips to local parks, restaurants, shopping for the weekly cooking segment are integrated throughout the week.  They have also been doing gardening and working on craft projects that will be sold next week, at the Garden and Craft Sale.  Nick enjoys going to this program, and looks forward to going to it daily.

Outside of his adult day program, Nick likes to go to the movies, parks, library and out to eat with his personal support/respite caregivers.

It’s the middle of April and a jacket is still required……

nick swing neighborhood

Oh happy day 🙂

Nick taco bell outside

For the past couple of years, Nick and his respite caregiver Jodi, have joined up with Christopher and his caregiver for date night, each Thursday.  These two guys have a lot of laughs together at the library, and going out to eat afterwards.  His buddy is moving out-of-state, so it was a bittersweet final date night for the two of them…….

Nick and Christopher saying goodbye, it’s the end of an era…..

nick and christopher

March is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and 3/21 also being World Down Syndrome Day.  Nick and I spent this month doing advocacy and awareness about Down syndrome.  One campaign we were a part of was with Noah’s Dad, #provethemwrong which highlights the many awesome things that people with Down syndrome are doing in the world.  To follow Noah’s Dad and #provethemwrong click here for more information: http://noahsdad.com/prove-them-wrong-tee-shirt/

Nick Prove Them Wrong

Our family also supports The National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) which is based in Chicago.  We are sponsors for the annual NADS Bowl-a-thon fundraiser.  Nick had a blast at the event :)……

Nick NADS bowlathon

Over the past weekend, we made a trip to Ohio to celebrate Nick’s cousin’s graduation from Bowling Green State University.  Nick is highly social, and loves spending time with his cousins, aunt, uncle, and grandparents.  Before the early 9am graduation ceremony began, in the crowded Stroh Center, Nick did his part to test a fire alarm cover.  The loud buzzer blared for a few seconds, before his Dad could close it back down.  It was a close call, but at least he didn’t pull the actual fire alarm.  He’s cheetah fast, and as I’ve said before, it’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up.

Congratulations and elbow bumps to Nick’s cousin, Sam, well done!…….

Nick and Sam Graduation

Relaxing on the deck and enjoying a warm, spring day with his cousin, Anna….

Nick and Anna

Spring is a time of renewal, and taking in the beauty of nature coming back to life after a cold, harsh winter.  It feels so good to get outside and power walk again.  These walks are a time for me, to reflect on life’s blessings.  I feel very fortunate that my son is healthy, happy and enjoys his life as a young adult having Down syndrome and autism.  Yes, there are many challenges, and he certainly keeps us all on our toes.  But the joy and humor that Nick exudes, far outweighs the behavior challenges we incur daily.

It’s almost Mother’s Day, which is the official “green light” to plant flowers and vegetables here in the Chicago area.  I’m ready to fill up the clay pots with some color, on the empty pallet of the deck.  I can’t wait to put the tomato plants into the soil.  Gardening is my way of relaxing, and shaking off daily stress.  It’s so important to carve out time for yourself, and restore what can sometimes be taken away, by the demands of parenting a child with special needs.  Wishing all the moms on the front lines, a very Happy Mother’s Day.   My hope is that you make time to enjoy something on your own, that is fulfilling and relaxing each day.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

Happy Spring everyone 🙂

~Teresa 

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Blog #161~Adult Day Program Update

Nick relaxing

Blog #161~Adult Day Program Update

Nick turned 22 years old in February and aged out of public school.  He now attends an adult developmental training day program.  The program has many enriching and structured activities.  The structure is essential for my son who has both Down syndrome and autism.  Here is an update on what big guy has been doing in this program.

Each week his group goes on several community trips.  This fall, they have gone to various parks, shopping, the library and pumpkin farm.  The group plans their grocery lists of items needed for cooking and goes shopping on Wednesdays.  Thursdays are cooking days along with gardening.  Each day includes instructional learning and recreational activities. Once a month, the association celebrates birthdays and holidays, with parties and luncheons.  On Fridays, he participates in volunteer jobs in the community.  These jobs include cleaning and stuffing church bulletins, organizing at a local food pantry, and recently working at GiGi’s Playhouse.

What is GiGi’s Playhouse?

GiGi’s Playhouse is a one-of-a-kind achievement center for individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community. GiGi’s Playhouse offers more than 25 therapeutic and educational programs that advance literacy, math skills, motor skills and more; all of which are free of charge. All programs are based on best practices for Down syndrome learning styles, and customized to ensure individual success. GiGi’s Playhouse actually serves infants through adults. GiGi’s Playhouse is headquartered in Hoffman Estates, IL; with 15 locations throughout the United States and Mexico, with more opening soon.

Nick participated in GiGi’s Playhouse activities when he was younger.  It’s nice to see that he has come full circle, by doing volunteer work here, as a young adult.  Check out the photos of Nick in action…….

Nick working at GiGi’s Playhouse, Fox Valley location…

nick-vacumme-gigis

nick-cleaning-gigis

nick-cleaning-two-gigis

Taking a snack break after working hard…..

nick-snack-gigis

Nick takes great pride in helping out in his community jobs, around the venue of his adult day program, and at home, as well.  He looks forward to going to his adult day program, that provides a safe environment, along with a warm and caring staff.  As Nick’s mom, that gives me great comfort knowing that he is contributing to society and happy in his young adult life.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram @#nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Education and Special Needs

Blog #132~Countdown to the End of School

#132~Countdown to the End of School

countdown-timer

The clock is ticking, and rapidly might I add.  Coming off the holidays, I’ve hit the ground running.  You see in less than a month my son, Nick will be aging out of the school system.  He is 21 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  The day before his 22nd birthday will be the final day that the little yellow bus stops coming to the door.

yellow-bus

We’ve been preparing for this day for months.  The post-secondary transition program he is attending (STEPS) has done an excellent job to map out a plan for this to be a seamless transition.  Last Friday, Nick visited the new facility (an adult day program).  His speech therapists took pictures and made a social story for Nick.  A person with autism benefits from having a visual schedule.  If they can see it, they can understand it.  This helps with reducing anxiety levels.  Here are a few of pictures from the social story:

Adult Day program site……

Keeler

Nick in the gym….

Nick gym

Nick will have a recycling job, elbows to that!

Nick recycling

Starting this week, Nick will be going to the new facility for half the day on Tuesday and Thursday.  The next couple of weeks he will expand his time there.

The other piece of the puzzle is transportation.  We have to insure that Nick can utilize the Ride DuPage successfully on his own. He will be doing some practice runs with his job coach. Then, if all goes well on his own with someone to meet him at curbside. We have requested a car to pick up rather than a bus.  This is the piece of the puzzle that keeps me up at night.  It’s uncharted territory that is giving me anxiety.  Nick actually does well in the car as he likes to be on the go.  Just make sure the window and door locks are set, he has some tappers to stim on and nothing to throw at the driver. I should pick up some Windex wipes so he can wipe the snot rockets off the window as well.  🙂

As the clock is ticking, I’m busy getting him to doctor and dentist appointments, arranging for a new  talker device and case (his current AAC device has to be given back to STEPS) and working with insurance to hopefully get speech and occupational therapy set up in his  new program.  In addition, the waiver to which Nick receives funding thru the state will need to be switched from the child to the adult waiver (which will increase his funds to support the day program).  The pressure is on, this needs to work, it has to work.  Nick needs to be in a structured program.  And this is an excellent one with a caring and qualified staff.  And I need to keep teaching my fitness classes and have my own life (and sanity).  Wish us luck, that’s what is in my “nervous” noggin this week.

~Teresa

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@Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism

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