Posted in Adult Day Programs for Special Needs, Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

DS-ASD Fall Update

DS-ASD Fall Update

fall pumpkins

Here’s what Nick’s been up to this fall.  My son is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD).  He attends an adult developmental training program each day.  The program keeps him busy with many enrichment activities and developmental learning skills are incorporated throughout the day.  Outside this program, Nick enjoys spending time with his personal support respite workers out in the community.

Some of the highlights of Nick’s day program are community trips, including shopping, museums, bowling and going out to eat.  In house, communication, functional living skills, recreation, music, movies, gardening, crafts and cooking are all a part of the curriculum.

Here are some of the fun things Nick’s been up to this fall outside the day program……

NIU Football Game, with Dad. Go Huskies!

NIU football game

Pumpkin Patch with Miss R….

Nick loves eating out and date nights with his personal support workers, Miss R, Jodi and Kelsey.  The look on his face says it all!  I think he’s got the “smizing” down, Tyra Banks 🙂

Here in Chicago, the fall weather was less than desirable.  But, there were a handful of mild, sunny days in the chilly mix. At least the Chicago Bears are playing some great football this season.

Go Bears!

Nick Bears Jersey

Nick is 24 years old, but I’ve noticed that he continues to gain new skills and behaviors which are both good and challenging.  I am always seeking new ways to support him to make good choices and curtail the undesirable behaviors, like button, fire alarm pushing, throwing and dropping things.  I am happy to report that some of these behaviors have started to diminish since adding in two new social stories.  Social stories are great tools to teach new skills and behaviors.  Next week, I will share more about these two stories, and how they have been implemented both at home and at his day program.  How’s that for a teaser? 🙂

Life has been good this fall, in Nick’s world, and the rest of us are just trying to keep up.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

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

Blog #185~ Down Syndrome: Supporting Positive Behavior

Blog #185~Down Syndrome: Supporting Positive Behavior

This month’s blog posts have focused on behavior management, specifically to individuals who have Down syndrome and autism.  I recently read, Supporting Positive Behavior in Children and Teens with Down Syndrome.  This book by pediatric psychologist, David S. Stein gives a comprehensive breakdown of how to deal with challenging behaviors, with a specific look at how the brain of a person with Down syndrome works.

Book Supporting Positive Behavior DS

This book is a must read for anyone who cares for, or works with, a child or teen with Down syndrome.  I only wish that this book had been available when 23-year-old son, Nick, was younger.  One of the key messages from this book, is how to look at behavior.  If you view a bad behavior as willful or intentional, the immediate reaction is to punish.  However, it is important to consider that the behavior is communicating some need.  The first section of this book, dives into the brain of a child with Down syndrome and cover behavior basics “101”.

In chapter 5, there is a step by step guide to behavior management system designed for children with Down syndrome:

Step 1:  Maintain the relationship (keep it positive)

Step 2:  Structure the environment for success

Step 3:  Use visuals, visuals, visuals

Step 4:  Notice good behaviors and set up token economies

Step 5:  Use proactive strategies to prevent negative behaviors and support positive behaviors

Step 6:  Manage the difficult situation before they happen 

The underlying theme in this book is how you approach behaviors.  Acknowledge that the behavior is NOT a willful or intentional act designed to make you upset.  Instead, view the behavior as an expression of some unmet need or challenge that has not been addressed.

“You can respond to a behavior thoughtfully, rather than emotionally.  You can learn to respond…but don’t react.”

Throughout the book, this is the common thread.  Respond… but don’t react.  Take your emotions out of the equation, and sometimes your gut reaction as well.  There are several chapters that address positive behavior management at home, school, community and with siblings.

When disciplining or responding to behavior, here’s what you should and should not do:

 You should:

*Take away eye contact.

*Keep your facial expressions neutral.

*Speak very little, if at all.

*Keep your tone of voice neutral.

*Keep your emotions in control.

*If removing attention and emotions is not enough, then direct the child to “take a break”.

And you should not:

*Look right at the child

*Make angry or upset faces.

*Try to explain, using words, why or what they did was horrible.

*Speak in a harsh, animated way.

*Show strong emotions.

Whenever possible, look for ways to prevent the behavior in the first place.  Try to determine what is causing the behavior, and what this functions serves the child.

There are often times which may be more difficult and cause more behavior problems.  These often occur in transition times, and especially during puberty.  These are addressed specifically in this book, along with when and how to seek help from a certified behavior specialist.

This book, Supporting Positive Behavior in Children and Teens with Down syndrome, is a concise guide to understanding behavior and how to manage it thoughtfully, by responding and not reacting to meet a child’s needs.  David S. Stein, packed a lot of punch into 132 pages.  I highly recommend adding this book to the cart.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

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Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #68~Hardy Har Har 2

Blog #68~ Hardy Har Har 2

Sometimes I think Nick would rather tease than eat.  Well, unless it’s a big bowl of pasta, then all bets are off.  Having a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism has made it difficult for him to verbalize speech.  It hasn’t stopped him from showing his funny side.  In Blog #39~Hardy Har Har, I explored Nick’s his sense of humor. Check this blog out @  This week I have some new gems to share.

Silly guy wearing the blue blanket on his head 🙂

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He knows he is going to get a laugh out of me here….

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Plunk, this is funny stuff….

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Ha, good one Nick. Way to drop the lime in the pasta water….

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Uh oh, another dribble from the second floor stairwell…In Blog #3~Getting Your Goat, you can see a lot more of these. Check it out @

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I try to stay one step ahead of him but it’s not easy.  His latest trick is to push the spout on the coffee maker and let it the hot, brown stream run over the counter and trickle down the white cabinet drawers leaving a puddle on the floor.  He also has taken to dropping toys, remotes, phones and an assortment of things behind the flat screen TV.  One thing that is helping is to catch him before he commits the act.  I show him this icon quickly before he initiates the problem behavior.  It seems to be helping him to regulate those impulses.

angry face

In addition, I use the happy face icon to catch him being good as often as I can…..

happy face

Like when he is unloading the dishwasher (and wearing my high heels)  hardy, har har Nick…..

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Finding ways for Nick to get attention appropriately also helps keep his behavior in check.  I am always stocking up on fun things for him….

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My friend, Kelli found this cool light up ring.  Nick took a fancy to it….

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I looked over a few minutes later and saw that he had made it a toe ring…. 🙂

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And who doesn’t crack up over a bloody hand….

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Hope you enjoyed the light hearted fare this week.  I feel very blessed that Nick is so happy. Yes, his antics drive us bonkers and wear on our nerves.  But he brings a great light and humor to each day. Hey, its Nick’s world….the rest of us are just trying to keep up.  That’s what is in my noggin this week! 🙂