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

DS-ASD, Nick’s Spring Update

DS-ASD, Nick’s Spring Update

spring flowers

The trees and flowers are budding and blooming here in the Chicago area.  A long overdue, and highly anticipated spring has finally arrived.  Here is what my son, Nick has been up to this spring.  Nick is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

Nick attends an adult day program which provides enrichment activities both in-house and out in the community.  The structured curriculum and schedule of this program serves Nick, and his fellow clients well.  Community trips to local parks, restaurants, shopping for the weekly cooking segment are integrated throughout the week.  They have also been doing gardening and working on craft projects that will be sold next week, at the Garden and Craft Sale.  Nick enjoys going to this program, and looks forward to going to it daily.

Outside of his adult day program, Nick likes to go to the movies, parks, library and out to eat with his personal support/respite caregivers.

It’s the middle of April and a jacket is still required……

nick swing neighborhood

Oh happy day 🙂

Nick taco bell outside

For the past couple of years, Nick and his respite caregiver Jodi, have joined up with Christopher and his caregiver for date night, each Thursday.  These two guys have a lot of laughs together at the library, and going out to eat afterwards.  His buddy is moving out-of-state, so it was a bittersweet final date night for the two of them…….

Nick and Christopher saying goodbye, it’s the end of an era…..

nick and christopher

March is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and 3/21 also being World Down Syndrome Day.  Nick and I spent this month doing advocacy and awareness about Down syndrome.  One campaign we were a part of was with Noah’s Dad, #provethemwrong which highlights the many awesome things that people with Down syndrome are doing in the world.  To follow Noah’s Dad and #provethemwrong click here for more information: http://noahsdad.com/prove-them-wrong-tee-shirt/

Nick Prove Them Wrong

Our family also supports The National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) which is based in Chicago.  We are sponsors for the annual NADS Bowl-a-thon fundraiser.  Nick had a blast at the event :)……

Nick NADS bowlathon

Over the past weekend, we made a trip to Ohio to celebrate Nick’s cousin’s graduation from Bowling Green State University.  Nick is highly social, and loves spending time with his cousins, aunt, uncle, and grandparents.  Before the early 9am graduation ceremony began, in the crowded Stroh Center, Nick did his part to test a fire alarm cover.  The loud buzzer blared for a few seconds, before his Dad could close it back down.  It was a close call, but at least he didn’t pull the actual fire alarm.  He’s cheetah fast, and as I’ve said before, it’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up.

Congratulations and elbow bumps to Nick’s cousin, Sam, well done!…….

Nick and Sam Graduation

Relaxing on the deck and enjoying a warm, spring day with his cousin, Anna….

Nick and Anna

Spring is a time of renewal, and taking in the beauty of nature coming back to life after a cold, harsh winter.  It feels so good to get outside and power walk again.  These walks are a time for me, to reflect on life’s blessings.  I feel very fortunate that my son is healthy, happy and enjoys his life as a young adult having Down syndrome and autism.  Yes, there are many challenges, and he certainly keeps us all on our toes.  But the joy and humor that Nick exudes, far outweighs the behavior challenges we incur daily.

It’s almost Mother’s Day, which is the official “green light” to plant flowers and vegetables here in the Chicago area.  I’m ready to fill up the clay pots with some color, on the empty pallet of the deck.  I can’t wait to put the tomato plants into the soil.  Gardening is my way of relaxing, and shaking off daily stress.  It’s so important to carve out time for yourself, and restore what can sometimes be taken away, by the demands of parenting a child with special needs.  Wishing all the moms on the front lines, a very Happy Mother’s Day.   My hope is that you make time to enjoy something on your own, that is fulfilling and relaxing each day.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

Happy Spring everyone 🙂

~Teresa 

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

Fall Update: Nick DS-ASD

Fall Update: Nick DS-ASD

Time flies when you are having fun, and Nick is having a blast this fall.  My son, Nick is 23 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.  He attends an adult day program which provides a wide variety of activities.  Community outings this fall included volunteer jobs, bowling, visits to local parks, fire station, grocery shopping and going out to eat.  His group also works in-house doing gardening, cooking, skill along with communication building using their Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Nick uses a program called Touch Chat on an iPad for communication.

Nick cooking at his day program…..

Nick cooking meatballs

Nick was very excited to visit the fire station 🙂  He wasted no time buckling up right away….

Nick fire truck

Outside his adult day program, Nick enjoys community visits to the library, mall, parks, shopping, the movies and eating out.  He continues to have “date nights” meeting up with his buddy, Christopher.  We are very grateful to have such caring respite workers, to take him out several times each week.

Fun at the Halloween Store…..

Nick crown

Buddy Up Tennis, see Blog #190 to read all about it @https://nickspecialneeds.com/?s=buddy+up

Nick buddy tennis 2

Nick relaxing at the library.  Make yourself at home there, Big Guy….. 🙂

Nick library

That’s Nick’s world and update for this fall.  I would like to take a moment to thank our respite workers, Lara, Jodi and Kelsey for all they do for Nick and our family.  My son has a full and rich life, and we are grateful to have these supports in place to make this possible.

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

~Teresa 🙂

Want to see more pictures of Nick?  We have a lot more on social media:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

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

Blog #161~Adult Day Program Update

Nick relaxing

Blog #161~Adult Day Program Update

Nick turned 22 years old in February and aged out of public school.  He now attends an adult developmental training day program.  The program has many enriching and structured activities.  The structure is essential for my son who has both Down syndrome and autism.  Here is an update on what big guy has been doing in this program.

Each week his group goes on several community trips.  This fall, they have gone to various parks, shopping, the library and pumpkin farm.  The group plans their grocery lists of items needed for cooking and goes shopping on Wednesdays.  Thursdays are cooking days along with gardening.  Each day includes instructional learning and recreational activities. Once a month, the association celebrates birthdays and holidays, with parties and luncheons.  On Fridays, he participates in volunteer jobs in the community.  These jobs include cleaning and stuffing church bulletins, organizing at a local food pantry, and recently working at GiGi’s Playhouse.

What is GiGi’s Playhouse?

GiGi’s Playhouse is a one-of-a-kind achievement center for individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community. GiGi’s Playhouse offers more than 25 therapeutic and educational programs that advance literacy, math skills, motor skills and more; all of which are free of charge. All programs are based on best practices for Down syndrome learning styles, and customized to ensure individual success. GiGi’s Playhouse actually serves infants through adults. GiGi’s Playhouse is headquartered in Hoffman Estates, IL; with 15 locations throughout the United States and Mexico, with more opening soon.

Nick participated in GiGi’s Playhouse activities when he was younger.  It’s nice to see that he has come full circle, by doing volunteer work here, as a young adult.  Check out the photos of Nick in action…….

Nick working at GiGi’s Playhouse, Fox Valley location…

nick-vacumme-gigis

nick-cleaning-gigis

nick-cleaning-two-gigis

Taking a snack break after working hard…..

nick-snack-gigis

Nick takes great pride in helping out in his community jobs, around the venue of his adult day program, and at home, as well.  He looks forward to going to his adult day program, that provides a safe environment, along with a warm and caring staff.  As Nick’s mom, that gives me great comfort knowing that he is contributing to society and happy in his young adult life.  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 Adult Day Programs for Special Needs, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Blog #154~Adult Day Program 6 Month Update

Blog #154~Adult Day Program 6 Month Update

On my son’s 22nd birthday this past February, the little yellow bus stopped coming to the door.  My son, Nick has Down syndrome and autism and has aged out of school.  For the past 6 months,  Nick has been going to an adult day program.  This week I want to share some of the activities he’s been doing in this excellent program at the Keeler Center.

Nick’s adult day program is filled with many fulfilling activities each day.  Mondays are dedicated field trip days.

Here are some of the places Nick has visited in the community:

Shedd Aquarium

Library

Brookfield Zoo

Fabyan Park Japanese Garden

Fox Valley Park District Greenhouse

Phillips Park

Red Oak Nature Center

Art Studios

Fermi Lab

Local restaurants (Noodles & Company, Dunkin Doughnuts, Culvers, Colonial Café, etc..)

In the facility, Nick participates in a variety of activities:

Vocational jobs (cleaning and vacuuming sensory room, recycling, shredding, work  bins, gardening, menu planning, cooking, etc..)

nick vacumming aid

Social circle (News to You, greeting and using AAC devices)

Science projects

Table and bin work

Nick work aid

Arts and Crafts (for art fairs, mothers/father’s day, making cards, painting, etc..)

Recreational (gym activities, yoga, etc..)

Nick yoga AID

Fun Fridays (Holiday theme parties, dancing, karaoke, games, concerts, cookouts, movies, etc..)

Speech therapy (insurance private pay), to work on articulation and using his AAC device

Outside the facility, his group does community recycling, shopping for cooking day as well as volunteer jobs.  One of the sites is at a local church, (stuffing bulletins and cleaning the nursery).  The other workplace is at a food pantry, where they organize and stock inventory, like dried beans, cereal and peanut butter.

Nick recycling

Nick has a full life and rewarding activities in his adult day program. The staff is very dedicated, caring, welcoming and patient.  Yes, patient! Nick’s pulled several fire alarms the last few months.  The behaviorist on staff  has put a plan in  place, and met with the staff to curtail this ongoing problem. Hey, it’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up. The current fire alarm pull count is now 40 pulls since 3rd grade.

While his speech is limited due to having a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, I can tell that he is very happy in this program.  How do I know?  When I wake him up in the morning he is excited to get dressed and out the door.  The other day I was driving him and his buddy Josh to the site.  Just before we crossed over the Fox River, Nick started saying “Keeler” with a big thumbs up.  It warms my heart knowing that Nick is happy and contributing to society. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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Posted in Adult Day Programs for Special Needs, Autism, Down syndrome, Uncategorized

Blog #137~Nick’s Adult Day Program

Blog #137~Nick’s Adult Day Program

Nick is just about a month into his new adult day program.  My son just turned 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  The month before his 22nd birthday he was attending the program part time.  Gradually we increased his days and hours during the month of January.  This made for a nearly seamless transition out of school to his new location.

The one bug in the whole process has been the transportation piece.  The first try was using a riding service through our county.  This was a fail.  There was a different driver every time, and you had to pay cash $13.50 each way.  The final nail in that coffin was a driver who (as reported by Nick’s job coach), was speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and throwing his leftover lunch out the window.  The next driving service we tried were caring and nice.  However they were never on time and cost way much more money ($27.50 each way) Ouch!  Currently, we’ve hired a lovely gal who is taking Nick in the mornings.  Kelsey has been a godsend.  She said that Nick is the best way to start her mornings. 🙂

Nick in car aid

For the time being, I am picking him up each afternoon.  Ideally, I hope to find another driver or find someone to share carpool duties with as it really cuts into my schedule. Otherwise I’ll paint my car taxi cab yellow. 😀  Stay tuned……

Nick has adjusted well in his new program.  Here are a few snapshots:

Vocational tasks….. (What, he’s not spraying anyone in the eye or drenching a flat screen tv?)

Nick cleaning aid.jpg

Nick relaxing in the sensory room….

Nick sensory aid

In his new program, the group goes out into the community three times a week.  He has already been to the Shedd Aquarium, recycling & food pantry jobs, shopping for cooking supplies and eating out at restaurants. The program also has special days with themes like Elvis Day, soul food cooking, Valentine’s Day party and monthly birthday celebrations.  The staff is caring and they really love what they do.  Nick has been very happy here.

Yes, there have been a few behaviors that have challenged the staff. That’s to be expected.  Nick can spot fresh meat and will test you.  But last week and the follow up meeting, the behaviorist felt these were manageable.  It really helped that the school sent his job coach with him during the transition.  Jodi, was able to help the staff understand these and guide them on how to handle Nick.  So far, he has only got to the cover of a fire alarm. I had my money on him pulling one the first week. 🙂

As Nick’s mom, it warms my heart to know that his days are full, structured, meaningful and that he is happy in his new adult life. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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