Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

DS-ASD~Nick’s World Update

DS-ASD~Nick’s World Update

There are lots of cool things going on in Nick’s world right now.  My son, Nick just celebrated his 25th birthday last week.  He has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD).

Nick and his Dad celebrating their birthdays….


A week earlier, Nick enjoyed dog sledding in Vail.  This was our second time to do this with Mountain Mushers, I highly recommend it.  I  wrote about our vacation last Monday.

If you missed last week’s blog about it, click here to read all about it:

Nick dog sled 2019

I am excited to share that, I’ve finished my memoir about the journey of raising Nick!  My editor just sent back revisions that will be keeping me busy.  So, for the next month or so, I will be highlighting some of my favorite, past blog posts.  I’ll plan on sharing both light-hearted and informative pieces.

This week, I am sharing Blog #100 which includes 20 tidbits about Nick.  Click here to read:

That’s what is in my noggin this week.  Be sure and follow Nick on social media where you will find lots more pictures and videos of Nick’s world.  The links are listed below.

~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, Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Winter Update: Nick DS-ASD

Winter Update: Nick DS-ASD

Here’s a look at Nick’s world, and what he’s been up to this winter.  My son Nick, is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.  He attends an adult day program which provides a variety of enrichment activities.  These include work time, communication and learning, recreation, cooking, gardening and crafting.  There are monthly theme parties and game time playing Bingo and Yahtzee.  His group enjoyed a variety of community trips to the grocery store, dining out, library and PetSmart.

Nick relaxing at his adult day program….

Nick AID new chair

Turtle time…..

Nick AID turtle

Crafting, Nick made some awesome pillows…..

Bingo Prize Winner!

Nick bingo prize

Community trip to PetSmart……

Nick Petsmart 1              Nick Petsmart 2

Each week, Nick goes on community outings with his respite caregivers, Jodi and Miss R.  They take him out to the movies, library, mall and to restaurants…..

Over the holidays, Nick celebrated with family here in Chicago and in Key West……

Nick Christmas 2017

Fun in the Florida Keys, including a trip to The Hemingway House……

In February, we celebrated Nick’s birthday in Vail.  Did you read last week’s blog #198, about his adventures in Colorado?

It’s been a busy winter packed with loads of fun for Nick!  Seeing all his smiles in the adult day program, community outings and on vacations assures me that he is having a wonderful life.  Having a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism shouldn’t limit a family from getting out and having fun.  I hope these updates bring inspiration to other families who have a child with special needs.

That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa 🙂

To see more of Nick’s world check out these social media sites:

Facebook: @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall





Posted in Fun Side of Nick

Blog #40~Say It’s Your Birthday

Blog#40~Say it’s your birthday…

“You say it’s your birthday
It’s my birthday too–yeah
They say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.”

Beatles birthday

It’s a silly thing we do…… singing this Beatles tune when calling certain people on their birthdays.  Speaking of which, this week two of the Unnerstall men have theirs.  Al is hitting the big one on Wednesday.  That’s right the big 5-0. 🙂  On the exact day that you turn 50, the AARP card application magically shows up in the mailbox. I proceeded to tear it up and to this day still toss them in the trash. But Al plans to embrace it fully to the extent that will make them go bankrupt.  On the evening of Feburary 6, 1994 I went into labor a week earlier than my due date.  I honestly thought I might have the baby on Al’s birthday.  But like his brother, Nick took his time and so he was born the following day. He was 6 pounds, 14 oz. and was 19 inches long. I gained exactly 19 pounds with this pregnancy.  Nick will be 19 years old on Thursday. 🙂

Here is a look at some of Nick’s birthday celebrations.  What a journey it has been.  Nick’s first birthday was celebrated with my side of the family and with my friend, Sally’s family.  Nick has very low muscle tone and you can see that my mom had to hold him with support over the cake as he blew out the candles.  At this point he was sitting up but far from being able to crawl very far much less pull up to stand.

A single candle on the homemade chocolate cake.  Hank is close by on the right.  Oh, my bangs are hideous…

Teresa Unnerstall 001 (2)
It wasn’t until Nick was 3 ½ until he was able to walk on his own. Here he is at the Arbor School in Houston celebrating his fourth birthday.


We relocated to the East Bay area outside of San Francisco. Many of the celebrations were simple. This is a sad little cake. It’s pathetic as Hank would say. I am ashamed I made that.

Hank holding his brother’s hands so he won’t flap them by his ears…..

So much for that 🙂


He is sooooooooo excited! He is going to town stimming those hands by his ears. Looking back I see it; a trait of autism.

This is more like it. A homemade yellow cake with chocolate frosting that Hank and I made.  In case you were wondering I don’t have any formal cake decorating training, shocker right 🙂

Nick turns 6!


Here’s Al at age 6, sporting a short cut like Nick…..all together, aahhhh he’s so cute…..

We moved to the Midwest and Nick celebrated his 7th birthday in style with a legit cake and the party theme was Thomas the Tank Engine.

At school for his 8th birthday, Nick got a special lunch with a Happy Meal. Looks like it is working….what a happy guy!


The following year the birthday boys celebrated together with Al’s folks Jim and Theresa on Super Bowl Sunday. Best part of the day was the opening kickoff that Devin Hester ran back for a touchdown.
devin hester
Unfortunately, Da Bears came up short. But it looks like the birthday boys got some nice presents.  Nick is really growing and rocking that Brian Urlacher jersey!


Nick’s got to get more lung power for his 17th, whew…..


Big breath now you have 18 candles to blow out..Big guy’s got this!


I hope you enjoyed this little taste of the boy’s birthday celebrations.  Common theme seems to be chocolate cake in all shapes and sizes. What a contrast from the low tone baby 19 years ago to present day.  My good friend April G. always says, “Funny thing if you feed and give them drink, they will grow.” Nick has done that in his own way and pace.  Not always in the time frame I had invisioned for him. But he did, and I couldn’t be more proud. That’s what is in my noggin this week.  Happy birthday boys and cheers to many more.🙂  Have a great week everyone and may your cake be full of candles this year and for many more to come!