Posted in Behavior/ ABA, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, IEP (Indivdualized Education Plan)

Blog #179~Down syndrome and Autism-Unlocking Your Child’s Potential

Blog #179~Down syndrome and Autism-Unlocking Your Child’s Potential

When your child has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, the game changes.  Speech may be limited or even non-verbal, which may lead to behavior problems.  Sensory issues can be extreme and interfere with social interactions and learning.  My son, Nick is 23 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.  His speech is limited, and he is a sensory seeker.  Over the years, with the help of some amazing teachers, therapists, and autism behaviorist specialists, he has developed skills which have allowed him to contribute both working in his adult day program, and here at home.

So how do you find the key to unlock your child’s potential?

padlock-unlocked_318-40940The key lies in identifying your child’s strengths, and working to build upon them.  First of all, just because my son’s speech is limited doesn’t mean he can’t communicate.  One of Nick’s assets is his receptive language, which is the ability to understand information.  Many of his goals in his IEP (Individualized Education Plan), were planned around using this strength when he was in school.  Nick was able to develop skills to become more independent in self-help, and other jobs both at home and school.  These skills were enhanced by using educational materials and supports that were written into his IEP.  Such materials included a PECS book (Picture Exchange Communication System) with training for staff, parents and child, Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) devices,  task strips, social stories, a picture schedule, video modeling, and a reward system.  All of these supports helped Nick to navigate his routine and built upon his functional and independent livings skills.

APE swimming 006 (4)

Besides his receptive language, Nick’s other strengths are his desire to please and take the initiative.  He is a taskmaster!  When Nick was younger, his teachers pointed out how good he was at matching.  A lot of his goals were structured around this.  Nick has always had a keen eye, and notices where everything goes around the house.  Anytime the batteries died on one of his musical toys, he would go to the kitchen drawer, pull out the screwdriver and hand it to me with the toy.  As he grew older, I recall him nudging his older brother over to help unload the dishwasher.  He knew which cabinet every single plate, cup, pot, pan and utensil were stored.  Shortly thereafter, I let him take over the chore (with no complaints from his older brother, Hank). 🙂

Nick still takes great pride in unloading the dishwasher today!

Nick dishwasher two

Here are some other ways the taskmaster takes initiative:

Nick getting out ingredients and utensils for his salad….

Nick dinner prep

As soon as he saw the pan of water on the stove, he went to the pantry and pulled out the ingredients to make pasta…..

Nick past cooking

Using his strength of taking the initiative, we have built upon this to create other jobs both at home and in the community.  When he was in school, his teachers recognized his sensory seeking needs and channeled them by doing “heavy work”.  An occupational therapist can assist with ideas to implement a sensory diet into your child’s routine. Nick likes to throw and swipe things (and still does).  It has helped to find activities with heavy work or that mimic this sensory need.

Here are a few of the jobs that does:

*Recycling (replacement behavior for throwing)

*Can crushing (sensory and motor activity and replacement behavior for throwing)

*Carry laundry basket and load washing machine (heavy work/ organizing)

*Put away groceries (organizing activity)

*Empty Dishwasher (organizing and sensory activity)

*Cleaning/ wiping down countertops and windows (organizing activity)

*Vacuuming (heavy work which is calming)

Nick working at a residence facility in high school….

Nick vacumming_Tabor Hills (3)

Nick doing volunteer work at GiGi’s playhouse with in his current adult day program…

nick-cleaning-gigis

There is so much your child can learn when you identify their strengths and unique talents.  When you find what motivates your child, you can build and expand upon it.  Work with your child’s IEP team, therapists and autism specialist, to identify those areas.  Then together as a team, create a plan with specific and measurable goals, that will enable your child to grow and be successful.  Unlock your child’s potential, and watch them soar!  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 Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Autism, Down syndrome

Blog #118~If You Can’t Fix It, Duct It!

Blog #118~ If You Can’t Fix It, Duct It!

duct tape

I reported two weeks ago, that Nick’s talker (AAC device) has survived being dropped from the second floor of the Naperville Library and onto the railroad tracks off Montgomery Road.  The case is sturdy but has taken a beating.  Nick is 21 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  He’s a crafty one.  It’s all we can do to keep up with his antics.  The school team has come up with two things to secure his talker better.

ipad touch chat

First, the team has devised a bumper around the iAdapter case with foam and duct tape to absorb the impact. I’m thinking that we need to patent this prototype.

IMG_5231

In addition, Nick has it tethered securely to his body with two straps (one over the shoulder and the other around his waist).

IMG_5116 

Nick is using his talker to make requests for iPad, Sprite, food items. When he burps he pushes the buttons, “excuse me” or “that’s gross”.  The other night I was busy doing laundry and getting dinner ready.  He was getting impatient and growing tired.  He proceeded to push “stop”- “I’m tired”- “I want to eat”.  When he finished dinner, he pushed the buttons “finished” and “bedtime”.  I’ve also noticed that he is using more verbal language since getting talker 2 months ago!

At home I figured out a way to tether it to a shelf with Velcro straps in the kitchen so it’s accessible.  So, between the straps and duct tape, we are staying one step ahead of big guy (at least for now). Hey it’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up.  That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa

 

Posted in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Autism, Down syndrome

Updates on Behavior & AAC Device

Updates on Behavior & AAC Device

Nick’s behavior has been escalating over the last few months.  He is 21 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  The incidences of throwing objects has increased.  This also includes his new AAC Device (talker). AAC stands for Augmentative Alternative Communication.  The school district’s autism specialist has done some observations of Nick and data collection of behaviors.  I did this as well at home with Nick’s behaviors.

The school team met last Friday to go over the observations and brainstorm on how to adjust his behavior support plan.  A significant amount of the behaviors are attention seeking.  The team is working on a system to reward Nick for being compliant. In addition, they will be utilizing his new AAC device to seek appropriate attention and making more requests and comments with it.  He has been throwing the device both at home and school.  The iPad is in sturdy enough case to survive a throw from the second floor of the Naperville Library as well as being pitched out the bus onto Montgomery Road at a railroad crossing.

On a positive note, he is using the device well to requests food, rewards as well as making some comments like, “excuse me” when he lets out burps.  He is learning how to navigate it with minimal prompts as well.

ipad touch chat

Nick’s behavior support plan is much like painting the Golden Gate Bridge.  Just when you think it’s all done and figured out, a new behavior pops up and you have to start over again.

paint golden gate bridge

That’s Nick’s world….. the rest of us are just trying to keep up.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa