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

Blog #245~DS-ASD Update

Blog #245~DS-ASD Update

What does life look like now for Nick since the pandemic hit over 2 years ago? It’s very different, uncomplicated and often redundant. Sometimes it feels like the movie Ground Hog Day, with the same thing happening over and over. It’s not a sad life, it’s just a different life. My son is 28 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). This week, I want to paint a picture of what life is like for Nick and our family these days and how we make his days meaningful so he knows his value and worth.

For 10 years I wrote diligently and posted a blog each Monday. Then the pandemic hit and Nick’s adult developmental day training program shut down. Well over 2 years later, he still sits idle on their waiting list hoping to get back in. Part of the reason my blogs have been sporadic is due to taking care of Nick at home, while I continue to work. This is no easy feat when you are trying to tune out the many sounds of autism. Since my book, A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism, was published in May of 2020, many doors have opened up to presentations, workshops, webinars and podcasts. It has been very rewarding doing these projects and sharing strategies on how to navigate co-occurring Down syndrome and autism. Later this month I will be presenting in person at the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) in New Orleans!

Order on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X

So, here’s a look at our new normal for the past two years. For most of us, this has been remote work, Zoom presentations and meetings which has been a great vehicle to reach a large audience across the country. Creating these presentations doesn’t feel like work, it’s exciting and creative. But, it can be difficult to concentrate when your son is constantly tapping, verbal stimming, pushing the microwave fan button, throwing things and running the water faucets. Nick also goes down some interesting YouTube rabbit holes. Lately he’s been diving down to find some real “gems”. This includes finding Thomas the Tank Engine the dark side, (picture Thomas with a black eye and goatee and guns blazing). Another gem has been fire alarm testing. Despite our efforts to clear the history on YouTube, he keeps finding those blaring alarms. It’s obviously fulfilling a sensory need he craves. Better on his iPad and not on a real fire alarm. 🙂

As I mentioned earlier, Nick’s day program has been a no go due to staffing shortages. It’s devasting to see that individuals with disabilities who are the most vulnerable, can’t get into day programs. Despite hefty signing bonuses being offered, many day programs continue to struggle with staffing. We have done our best to create some structure at home and provide him with personal support workers who assist him at home and with community activities outside the house. Structured teaching activities benefits include developing and maintaining educational and fine motor skills.

Structured Teaching Activities
Activities include matching, sorting office supplies and puzzles

Nick also has several jobs around the house which include unloading the dishwasher, recycling, vacuuming, and helping to prepare meals. These jobs along with the structured teaching activities are meaningful and bolster his confidence.

Nick unloading the dishwasher
Working at home

In addition to in home activities, Nick also enjoys going out into the community with his personal support workers. Having respite care is important for families, so each member gets a break and can go out and enjoy time on their own.

Fun at the Park
Lunch date with personal support worker

The new normal at home with Nick is working largely due to having wonderful personal support workers and offering meaningful activities. We have looked into other day programs, but most have waiting lists or lack the staffing to accommodate Nick’s needs. So, we just keep leaning into the new normal and doing the best we can to find balance in both our work and Nick’s needs. As a mom, it gives me comfort to hear him say “happy” and lean into life at home. Even if it does include those trips down the YouTube rabbit hole.

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

~Teresa

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram at Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism
Posted in Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #244~ Kicking off Autism Awareness Month with Forever Boy

Blog #244~ Kicking off Autism Awareness Month with Forever Boy

April is Autism Awareness-Acceptance Month. I want to kick it off with the book release of Forever Boy by Kate Swenson, creator of Finding Cooper’s Voice.

Available on Amazon https://amzn.to/3K8nw8N , Barnes and Nobles, Target and more

Forever Boy is a memoir of Kate Swenson’s journey as the mother of Cooper, who was diagnosed with severe, non-verbal autism. There were many resonating stories in her book I related to and wrote candidly about in my book, A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism (https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X). My son Nick is 28 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). It’s very hard to open up about some aspects of life with autism, I applaud Kate for her honesty and beautiful writing style.

There have been many obstacles to overcome in order to support my son Nick. Autism is a spectrum disorder and when your child is profoundly disabled, the barriers can be many. Imagine not being able to speak verbally and how frustrating it would be. Communication and behavior go hand in hand. Every behavior is communicating an unmet need or struggle. As a parent, it is heartbreaking to see your child struggle. Forever Boy takes you through the pain and joy that Kate and her family experienced in a humble and a heartfelt way.

So, let talk about the hard. Supporting a child with severe, non-verbal autism includes advocating for services, support, providing appropriate education and finding a way to give your child a voice. As I mentioned earlier, every behavior, including the maladaptive behaviors are communicating an unmet need or struggle. Individuals with autism can also have difficulties self-regulating. When a situation becomes overwhelming, and reaches a boiling point, the end result can be a meltdown. This is the hard. In Forever Boy, I felt the sweat, fear and bruises that often follow a meltdown. But what is much worse, is the feeling that your child is struggling in a world that doesn’t often understand them.

“Speak your truth. Even if you voice shakes. Share your life.” ~Kate Swenson, Finding Cooper’s Voice

Another “pain point” that families on the severe side of autism experience is isolation. It might be fear for your child’s safety due to elopement or worry that certain social settings might be too overwhelming. Sometimes, it’s just easier to stay home or do shorter visits to prevent stimulus overload and having stress chemicals build up, which can result in a meltdown. (To understand this better, I highly recommend following The Autism Discussion Page, on Facebook. Bill Nason provides a wealth of information about autism that is very easy to understand for parents. He also has user friendly guides available for purchase.)

The book Forever Boy opens the curtains to what severe, non-verbal autism looks like from a mother’s perspective. You will feel the love and joy as well as the struggles and heartbreak. This book will educate, inspire and empower parents, teachers, professionals and anyone interested in learning more about how to support individuals and their families. Thankyou Kate for being vulnerable and sharing your journey. Thank you for showing the beauty of Cooper, his unique abilities and giving hope to others. Many families on this journey will benefit from knowing that they are not alone.

“Once you make it through, help another parent. Text them. Call them or go to them. Sit with them in the dark. Be the person you needed in the beginning.” ~Kate Swenson

My goal is to help others and make this path of DS-ASD easier and more understandable. I look forward to sharing more about supporting individuals and their families this month. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

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Posted in Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #242~ Gift Ideas that Support Individuals with Down syndrome and other Disabilities

Blog #242~Gift Ideas that Support Individuals with Down syndrome and other Disabilities

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is rs=h:500,cg:true
https://specialsparkle.com/

Are you looking for unique gifts that help to support young adults with Down syndrome and other disabilities? This week, I have assembled a list of 7 small businesses that offer some awesome merchandise. I have personally bought products from each of these businesses. You can find out more below and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

My name is Teresa Unnerstall and I am a parent to a 27 year old son with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD) and the author of A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism. My book is available on Amazon, click below to order a copy for Christmas. (For more book recommendations click over to the resource page on this blog site.)

Order your copy today at  
https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X

7 Small Businesses that Support Individuals with Down syndrome and Other Disabilities:

1.Special Sparkle: Kelly is a young lady with Down syndrome and this company was created to assist Kelly in leading a fulfilled and productive life after school came to an end for her.  She loves fashion, style and bling. Check out her jewelry line here: https://specialsparkle.com/

Meet Kelly — The One of a Million Project
https://specialsparkle.com/

2. 21 Pineapples Shirt Company: Nate Simon has always been known as a fashion icon. The company’s mission is to change the way others perceive people with Down Syndrome & other special abilities one Hawaiian Shirt at a time. A percentage of all sales will go directly to support Down Syndrome organizations throughout the world. Check out his merch at https://21pineapples.com/

Mom-And-Son Duo From Beverly Use New Hawaiian T-Shirt Business To Advocate  For People With Down Syndrome
https://www.21pineapples.com

3. Candidly Kind: Grace Key started candidly kind to spread light love and acceptance thru her original art and life. Candidly Kind gives a percentage of every sale to charities who share the candidly kind vision to spread light, love and acceptance. It is a huge part of Grace’s mission…giving back. Check out her line at: https://www.candidlykind.com

https://www.candidlykind.com

4. Margrit Co Jewelry: Margrít Co. is a designer jewelry brand that focuses on creating unique, colorful and lightweight jewelry for women of all ages. Margrit Co. gives 15% of all retail sales to our Down with Business scholarship fund, which benefits ministries and businesses owned and operated by individuals with Down Syndrome. Owner and Designer Maggie Blair’s youngest brother Matthew is 18 years old and has Down Syndrome and works alongside her as the shipping manager. Check out her beautiful jewelry collection here: https://margritco.com/

Meet Maggie Blair Dietrick of Margrit Co. in Waco - Voyage Dallas Magazine  | Dallas City Guide
https://margritco.com

5. River Bend Gallery showcases the photography by Geoffrey Mikol and is located in downtown Galena, Illinois. His work is mainly of nature and landscapes. Check out his beautiful photography gifts here https://www.riverbendgalleries.com

https://www.riverbendgalleries.com

6. Bitty and Beau’s Coffee: With over 80% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities unemployed nationwide, the Wrights believe that Bitty & Beau’s Coffee creates a path for people with disabilities to become more valued, accepted and included in every community. Check out their merchandise here:

7. Seanese Shirts: Is owned by “Born This Way” star, Sean McElwee. The name of the company came from what Sean’s family called his speech as a child. Now, his funny phrases are being immortalized on swag. Each shirt features a phrase and graphic design, and all designs are approved by Sean. Each month, 10 percent of profits go to a disability non-profit.

You can find a wide variety of t-shirts on Sean’s website at https://seanese.com

Cyber Monday Buy any Two items... - Sean from Born This Way
https://seanese.com

Nick and I would like to wish each of you a Happy Holiday. Thank you for supporting our work to educate, inspire and advocate for individuals with a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD and other disabilities. We look forward to sharing more with you in 2022. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram at Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism!

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #241~ DS-ASD in Praise of Caregivers

Blog #241~DS-ASD In Praise of Caregivers

November is National Family Caregivers Month, it is a time to recognize and honor caregivers across the country. Did you know that there are over 65 million Americans caring for aging and disabled loved ones in the US? My son, Nick has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). We are very fortunate to have wonderful caregivers to support him. This allows us to work, get out and enjoy activities outside the home.

The needs of individuals with DS-ASD are complex and behaviors can be challenging. It can easily burn out family members trying to manage it all alone. Families can access funding for respite care by checking to see if their state has a Medicaid waiver or other programs for individuals with a disability.

For more information click here:

https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/home-community-based-services/home-community-based-services-authorities/home-community-based-services-1915c/index.html

https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/section-1115-demo/demonstration-and-waiver-list/index.html

I want to honor the amazing caregivers who work with our son, Nick. He enjoys their company at home and out in the community. The Medicaid home and community based service plan here in Illinois pays personal support workers who also work on goals for Nick to keep up with his skills and communication.

Nick and Miss R.
Nick and Miss R. at the pumpkin patch
Nick with Jodi and Kelsey
Nick is a bit smitten with Kelsey
Nick and Lisa

As I mentioned earlier, Nick enjoys their company. On many occasions he will grab pictures of the caregivers out of his Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) book and hand them to me. A PECS book helps Nick to communicate his wants, needs and feelings. Individuals with DS-ASD can benefit from using pictures to express themselves. It is very evident that Nick loves each of them and they have all become part of our family.

Thank you to Miss R., Jodi, Kelsey and Lisa for your love and support. We praise all that you do for Nick and our family. We honor you this month and every day of the year! That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

For more information and link to my book: https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X

Posted in Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #237~Autism Acceptance Month

Blog #237~Autism Acceptance Month

There is a shift occurring this April with Autism Awareness Month. Let’s face it autism awareness doesn’t mean much without acceptance too. It’s not just a shift in the terminology of “autism awareness” to “autism acceptance”, you may notice new symbols like the rainbow infinity taking the place of the puzzle piece imagery (as many believe that the puzzle symbol evokes a negative connotation as a problem that needs to be solved). To keep you in the loop, the rainbow infinity sign represents neurodiversity, here’s more:

Rainbow Infinity Sign represents neurodiversity

“Neurodiversity is the idea that autistic people add diversity to the world, and that disability is part of the human experience. Neurodiversity advocates oppose the idea of an Autism “cure,” and want to focus more on helpful and respectful therapies. They believe that Autistic people should be accepted in society.” Autism Acceptance Month Call to Action: Commit to Being Inclusive. – Key Assets Kentucky

Whether it’s promoting with rainbow infinity symbols or puzzle pieces I think the emphasis should be on the movement from autism awareness to acceptance. My son Nick is 27 years old and has a co-occurring Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). According to Autism Speaks, “Over the next decade, an estimated 707,000 to 1,116,000 teens (70,700 to 111,600 each year) will enter adulthood and age out of school based autism services.” That is a staggering statistic as autistic children grow up to become adults in need of safe housing, medical care insurance, family (inclusive and accessible) public restrooms, meaningful employment and adult day program opportunities. Acceptance requires understanding along with providing supports and accommodations.

We need to accept the fact that 1 in 54 children born in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism and they along with their families need support and opportunities to be fully included in society. What if we celebrated differences and became more understanding of individuals with autism? For my son Nick, it would mean respecting his need for routine, sameness and space, to be accepting of his need to rock, sway, flap his hands and make verbal stimming sounds to help keep himself regulated. It would also mean looking beyond these self-stimulatory behaviors to see his unique abilities and strengths.

This Autism Acceptance Month I challenge you to do more than just be aware of autism. Here are a few suggestions:

*Read and share books about autism like my book A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism available on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X

*Follow The Autism Discussion Page on Facebook where you will gain a better insight some of the challenges associated with autism. Bill Nason has a series of books that are toolkits to individuals with autism feel safe, accepted and competent: Autism Discussion Page on the Core Challenges of Autism: A Toolbox for Helping Children with Autism Feel Safe, Accepted, and Competent: Nason, Bill: 9781849059947: Amazon.com: Books

*Read and share books with your children and local libraries: 30 Best Children’s Books About the Autism Spectrum (appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com)

*Donate and join autism support groups like The Down Syndrome-Autism Connection which has been in operation since 2007, and is the only non-profit in the United States dedicated solely to co-occurring Down syndrome and autism. They have given over 2,000 families around the world a place to belong. This month you can donate to my team @ https://givebutter.com/xrKt9I. Learn more about the connection at http://www.ds-asd-connection.org.

*Show kindness and respect for how autistic individuals need to process the world around them and understand that they shouldn’t have to conform to the norms when expressing themselves.

This April for Autism Acceptance Month and moving forward, I encourage you to learn more about understanding autism. Understanding leads to acceptance. Let’s celebrate unique personalities and abilities and also show compassion for the challenges and struggles faced by individuals with autism and their families.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow us at Down Syndrome with A Slice of Autism on Facebook and Instagram and @tjunnerstall on Twitter

Posted in Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Education and Special Needs, IEP (Indivdualized Education Plan), Parenting Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #236~Need IEP Help? The New Go-To Guide: Special Education Savvy

Blog #236~Need IEP Help? The New Go-To Guide: Special Education Savvy

IEP Season is here, do you need help understanding the process and how to become a better advocate for your child? I’ve got the resource for you, just in time for IEP season. It is the new go-to guide, Special Education Savvy: A Mom’s Guide to Mindset and Effective Advocacy Throughout the IEP Journey and it’s a must read! I received an advanced reader copy of Mary Beth Gilliland, M.ED book which was just released last week. The author literally takes you the reader, by the hand and guides you step by step on the IEP process.

IEP stands for Individual Education Plan, which is a written document outlining the program of special education instruction, supports and services that a student with a disability needs to make progress in school. IEP’s can be complicated and daunting, especially for moms who are new to navigating this journey with their child. I was one of those moms, my son Nick, has co-occurring Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). This new book, Special Education Savvy is the book that I wish I had in my hands 27 years ago.

Special Education Savvy stands out in my mind as different than other special education/ IEP/advocacy books for several reasons. First of all, the author Mary Beth Gilliland feels like a mentor that is sitting right there with you at an IEP meeting. She provides sections that include basic special education 101, advocacy strategies, IEP meeting tips and more. You will also learn how to handle the uncomfortable and often challenging encounters that parents may face when IEP’s, when aren’t being followed or their child is not making progress. Second, this book is easy to read especially for busy moms who are juggling a multitude of responsibilities. The technical jargon associated with special education is clearly spelled out making it easier to understand. Mary Beth also breaks down every aspect of the IEP process, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Finally, as the title suggests you come out of each chapter feeling confident with a savvy mindset ready to advocate for your child.

I found myself shaking my head, yes as I read each chapter. Mary Beth uses clever analogies to make important points about a student’s rights along the technical stuff like IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and FAPE (Free and appropriate public education). Again, she clearly explains these tough areas and makes the information parent friendly.

As a DS-ASD consultant, advocate and author of A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism (available at https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X ) I highly recommend Special Education Savvy. It is the ultimate instruction manual for understanding and advocating for your child’s IEP. You will feel more educated and empowered with this well written toolbox of strategies. Ultimately, this knowledge will help to ensure your child receives the services and support to be successful in school.

That’s what is in my noggin this week. Now, I am off to find a cute pair of yellow flats and get savvy for April to advocate about Autism Awareness Month.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow us on social media on Facebook and Instagram @ Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism and on Twitter @tjunnerstall.

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

MLK Day and Finding the Light in 2021

I’m taking some time to reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy. There is so much negativity and turmoil in our nation. My hope is that we can come together, heal and echo the powerful messages given by Martin Luther King Jr.

Yesterday, another national treasure, Betty White turned 99 years old. I wrote this blog and posted it on the third week of January 4 years ago. This blog is so resonating and timely, given the current distress facing all of us. Happy Birthday Betty White, your wisdom is like an elixer for the fountain of youth and for finding happiness and peace.

Click here to view: Katie Couric interview with Betty White – Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism (nickspecialneeds.com)

Find the light and positivity each day and make it a ripple effect. That might be a good start towards a better year for 2021. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

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Twitter @tjunnerstall

Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Parenting Special Needs

DS-ASD: 10 Autism Holiday Stress Tips

DS-ASD: 10 Autism Holiday Stress Tips

I am Teresa Unnerstall, a DS-ASD consultant and author of A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism (https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X) My son Nick is 26 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD).

Here are my top 10 Autism Holiday Stress Tips to help you navigate the upcoming holiday season. Click the link below to view:

Blog #225~10 Autism Holiday Stress Tips – Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism (nickspecialneeds.com)

I hope you have a safe and joyous holiday. Remember to give yourself a little extra grace as we deal with the added stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. I have pared things down even more this year and striving for simplicity. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

Cheers and Be Well,

Teresa 🙂

Follow Us:

Facebook and Instagram at Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Education and Special Needs, IEP (Indivdualized Education Plan), Parenting Special Needs

Blog #232~Special Needs Parent and Educator Help During Covid-19

Blog #232~Special Needs Parent and Educator Help During Covid-19

As a dual diagnosis DS-ASD writer and consultant, I’m scratching my head on how to help special needs families faced with the daunting task of implementing remote distance learning. This is an unprecedented time we are in facing with Covid-19. It’s like a continuous Ground Hog Day with no end in sight. My son Nick is 26 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). He normally attends an adult developmental training program. His program has been closed since March. The focus at home has been to work on independent living skills. So what advice can I offer? What would I do if my son was still in school?

My short answer is this………

As an IEP team you have to collaborate together and think outside the box on how to navigate distance learning. That means asking for support, visuals, making addendums to the IEP, finding outside resources and therapies. Always lead with the child’s interests and strengths when implementing lessons and goals both at school and home.”

I am going to stay in my lane and introduce you to one of the top experts in navigating IEP’s. Catherine Whitcher’s podcast is packed with great advice on how parents and educators can work together to make education successful during the Covid-19 crisis. You won’t be disappointed and you will learn ALOT!!! 🙂 Click here to listen:

https://www.catherinewhitcher.com/blog/podcastcriticaliepdecisions

In this podcast, Catherine Whitcher explains that you can’t do an IEP meant to be implemented at school in the home. Here are a few key bullet points of her podcast:

*Keep track of what is being tried, what is working and not working.

*Collaborate together to come up with solutions, make adjustments and addendums to the IEP.

*Redefine what is appropriate for this current situation, then come up with a new plan.

You can follow Catherine on Facebook and Instagram where you will learn so much as I have over the years at https://www.catherinewhitcher.com/ She offers up to date, practical information in her blogs, podcasts and live feeds on social media.

Don’t wait for your child to get back into school to make up for lost time. Take action now to make the best out of distance learning by thinking outside the box, collaborating with the IEP team and working with your child’s strengths and interests. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow on Social Media:

Facebook and Instagram at Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

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

Blog #231~A Book Launch During Covid-19

Blog #231~A Book Launch During Covid-19

May 5, 2020 was going to be one of the most important days of my life. This was the date I planned to launch my book, A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism.

A New Course Book Cover multiple books

(Order your copy of A New Course) @ https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X 

Read chapter one of a New Course for FREE @ https://teresaunnerstall.com

May 5th was the perfect date, tying in Cinco de Mayo and Taco Tuesday to the launch party and book signing. I had a beautiful venue lined up complete with a taco bar and cocktails. I chose this date because it was just a week or so before Mother’s Day and at the height of  the IEP season. Two days later, we had plans to fly to Arizona where I would speak at the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) Adult Summit.

Then everything we planned came to a screeching halt……..

covid 19 pandemic

My son Nick is 26 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). His adult developmental day training program like all the schools, shut down in March. Across the country we all sheltered in place. There was no break–no respite care–no where to go and no way out. The lockdown was a moveable line that just kept pushing further with each passing month. Nick didn’t understand why he had to stay home, he became frustrated with the lack of structure and limitations. You can read about this experience with Nick and sheltering in place, by clicking below:

This is an article I wrote for The Mighty about this experience with my son, Nick: https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/navigating-covid-19-lockdown-son-173142879.html

So, I rolled up my sleeves and focused on marketing. A hybrid publisher does the bulk of the leg work, taking the pressure off the author and ensuring that the particulars are taken care of properly.

Here’s a breakdown of the book marketing plan:

*Identify key influencers and offer an advanced reader copy of the book in return for promoting and endorsing the book.

*Create and build followers on A New Course Book Launch Party group on Facebook.

*Do consistent posts on social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (links listed below).

*Closely follow the marketing plan outlined by my publishing team using the Trello Board.

*Submit articles to magazines in related field and to Bublish.

*Find podcasts in the field that may be interested in DS-ASD and the book.

*Visit my author page at https://www.teresaunnerstall.com to view all the News/ Events including virtual events, promotions, podcasts and accolades.

As for the actual launch date on May 5th we had to go to plan B.  Here is what that looked like:

*Go live on Facebook three times doing author Q&A’s and reading chapter excerpts.

*Promotional giveaways of swag bags– prize drawings for friends who share & tag posts and pictures of themselves (or their pets) with my book.

*Small gathering of seven people outside, socially distant at 6 feet apart–with  a parade featuring the local fire department. (Nick has a thing for fire alarms–all 55 pulls since 3rd grade).

*Zoom Cinco de Mayo parties with margarita toasts.

Here are some pictures highlighting book launch day 🙂

As you can see, a book launch can be done even during a Covid-19 Pandemic lockdown. Like so many other major events in 2020 such as graduation ceremonies, proms, sporting events, birthdays and other special occasions–you find ways to make the best lemonade out of lemons–or margarita’s on Cinco de Mayo. 🙂

I would like to thank Alexa Bigwarfe and the publishing team at Kat Biggie Press, https://katbiggiepress.com for laying out an excellent blueprint on the Trello Board. This board carefully organized media materials, a marketing plan and submissions from the publishing team. My publisher also lent support with social media and guidance through all phases of publishing journey. One lesson I learned from Alexa Bigwarfe and my dear friend and best-selling author, Lisa McCubbin is this:

The marketing and outreach doesn’t stop after your book is published. Keep pushing to find new avenues to promote and market your book, because if you stop–your book sales will die. 

It’s been three months since my book came out and I am pleased to announce that A New Course has 56 Five Star Amazon reviews and it was a top non-fiction book on Library Bub in July. It is being well received by parents, extended family & friends, educators, therapists and physicians across the country and globe. Top leaders and authors in the field of Down syndrome and autism are endorsing A New Course! Best of all, my book is getting into the hands of readers and helping families understand how to navigate a dual diagnosis, validate their feelings, struggles and offering hope for the future with their child.

Finally, I want to thank my family, friends and launch team who supported me through this writing, blogging and publishing journey.  I appreciate the pep talks, shares, tags, pictures and book reviews submitted on Amazon and Goodreads. The BEST way to thank an author is to leave them a BOOK REVIEW on Amazon or Goodreads! The more reviews I get, the better chance my book can get into the hands of more readers–Please keep submitting your reviews, they are critical for book sales! You can still join in on the action, get the inside scoop, backstories and a chance to win reader appreciation prizes on our Facebook group: A New Course Insiders Book Club. 

So that’s how we managed to launch a book with success during the Covid-19 Pandemic and make the most out of an impossible situation here in 2020. That’s what is in my noggin this week. Be well and thank you for being a part of this journey with Nick and my book A New Course.

~Teresa 🙂

LOGO TRANSPARENCY (5)

Follow Nick:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/downsyndromewithasliceofautism/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/downsyndromewithasliceofautism/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tjunnerstall