Blog #229~DS-ASD Winter Update
This winter weather has been bitter and harsh, here in Chicago. Fortunately, we missed the plummeting temperatures last week, while vacationing in Vail, Colorado. My son, Nick is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). Here’s an update on what Nick’s been up to this winter and the highlights of our trip to Vail.
The weather in Vail was mild, with temperatures in the 35-40 degree range and plenty of sunshine. There is something to be said about sunlight and how it can elevate your mood. The clear blue skies, warm sun, fresh air, and beautiful mountain views, can do wonders for the soul.
Nick enjoyed his time with our friends in Vail. The village is always a fun place to visit. Here’s Nick at lunch and with his Dad, Al :)…..
The highlight of the week, for Nick was dog sledding. This is the second year we’ve done this with Mountain Mushers, who offer the best dog sledding rides in the Vail Valley. Nick was happy to see his buddy, Cameron who was our dog sled musher last year. He always gets such a kick seeing all the happy dogs, who bark with excitement as the sleds loaded up.
All bundled up in the sled and ready to go, and guess what, he actually kept his hat and gloves on this time. Yay Nick! 🙂
The scenic trail was packed with alot more snow this year, making the ride faster. His favorite part is when the sled goes over the bumps and flies down the hills. Nick is a thrill seeker, who always signs “more” when a roller coaster ride is over. He also loves the Disney movie Snow Dogs, so this was a perfect blend of his favorite things. Towards the end of the ride, his Dad got to try his hand at mushing. Check out the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter links below to see videos of them dog sledding in action all this week. 🙂
Today it’s a balmy 50 degrees here in Chicago, and Nick has returned to his adult developmental training day program. It’s hard to believe the turn around in temperatures……
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Nick attends a day program that he truly enjoys. The adult developmental training program curriculum includes functional and academic work activities, crafts, exercise, cooking, entertainment, and community outings. The staff reports that Nick has so much potential and does awesome at the learning centers and work choices. They have a lot of fun, especially over the holidays. Activities included a big Christmas lunch, wearing ugly sweaters, listening to a local high school choir and making wreaths, gingerbread houses and pillows.
Here’ s a no sew pillow that Nick made…..
If you look closely in the picture above, you might notice a stop icon on the dishwasher. There are many of these stop signs on the start buttons around our house. Individuals with a diagnosis of autism can benefit from the use of icons, to better guide their days. Nick has a thing for pushing buttons and fire alarms. His behavior support plan (BSP) addresses the fire alarm pulling. Twice each day, the staff at his day program take him on a walk down the hallways. They encourage and cue him to “keep walking” with “hands to self”. Before these walks, the staff reads his social story that contains pictures of how to navigate these hall walks. Upon successful completion, Nick earns a reward.
Click on this link to learn more about the BSP and his social story: https://nickspecialneeds.com/tag/social-stories/
That wraps up Nick’s world and what he’s been up to this winter. Navigating a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD has it’s good and bad days. Fortunately, the good days now outweigh the bad. I think it’s both maturity on Nick’s part, along with the wisdom and understanding gained from being his parent. Big guy has a milestone birthday coming up, I look forward to sharing more with you next Monday! What is one thing that Nick has taught you over the past 24+ years? I’d love to hear your feedback. 🙂
That’s what is in my noggin this week.
Follow Nick on Social Media to see more pics and videos:
Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism
Instagram #nickdsautism and more on dog sledding #mountainmushers