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!!! ūüôā 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 ūüôā

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, Fun Side of Nick, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

DS-ASD Winter Update

DS-ASD Winter Update

Vail view 2019

My son Nick is a young adult, who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). He attends an adult developmental day training program which provides a variety of structured activities. This week, I want to catch everyone up on what Nick’s been doing this winter.

Nick’s day program includes learning and enrichment activities. Clients enjoy learning new skills, vocational jobs, exercise, crafts, shopping, cooking, theme days/parties and community outings. The structured program is a necessity for individuals like Nick who have a secondary diagnosis of autism. He looks forward to going to this program daily.

Nick at his adult developmental day training program:

Nick bowling fall 2019     nick connect game

There have been many celebrations and fun excursions this winter for Nick. Here are a few of the highlights:

Christmas in Chicago was unseasonably warm this year, no jacket or shoes required. ūüôā

Nick Christmas presents 2019     Nick Christmas outside 2019

We recently enjoyed a nice vacation in Vail. Nick loved the dog sledding with Mountain Mushers. He got to ride with his guide and friend, Cameron for the third year in a row. This year Nick road up the gondola for the first time and we did snow tubing. It’s always nice to go into Vail village, and this year his respite worker joined us in the fun and helped support Nick for a few days of our trip.

Vail vacation highlights:

Nick and Cameron Dog Sledding 2019   Dog Sledding 2019 Nick and Miss R Vail 2019   Nick and Dad Tubing 2019

Nick just celebrated his 26th birthday! He had a pizza party with cupcakes at his day program. We also had cake at home and a nice birthday lunch with family.

Nick’s birthday highlights:

Nick birthday at Keeler 2020   nick 26 birthday

nick birthday 2   Nick HBD

It’s been a fun and busy winter in Nick’s world. As most of you know, I have completed my memoir, “A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism”¬† which is forthcoming on May 5, 2020!¬† My next post will showcase the book and include pre-order details and how you can get your hands on a copy. I can’t wait to share this with all of you. I truly appreciate your support in my writing and following Nick’s world. ūüôā

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa ūüôā

Follow Nick’s world to view more photos and videos on social media:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With a Slice of Autism

Instagram @https://www.instagram.com/nickdsautism/

Twitter @https://twitter.com/tjunnerstall

LOGO TRANSPARENCY (5)

 

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

Blog #223~When It’s More Than Just Down Syndrome

Blog #223~When It’s More Than Just Down Syndrome

Parents of a child with Down syndrome will post questions online, about the possibility of their child also having autism.  Their questions are, what are the signs and symptoms, and also what is the benefit of having a secondary diagnosis of autism with the primary diagnosis of Down syndrome (DS-ASD)?  Having navigated the path of a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD for 24 years and working as a dual diagnosis specialist and consultant, I can attest to the benefits of getting the secondary diagnosis of autism along with Down syndrome.

Do you suspect that your child, student or client with Down syndrome may also have autism?  Learn about this:

*The signs and symptoms of DS-ASD

*The benefits getting an evaluation and secondary diagnosis of autism related with Down syndrome

*What additional services are available to support a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD

*Resources and support related to having a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD

Click here to learn find out: @https://nickspecialneeds.com/2016/09/12/blog-155more-than-just-down-syndrome/

Getting the secondary diagnosis of autism along with Down syndrome was the key to unlocking the door for more specialized training, communication and behavior support, funding and respite care for my son, Nick.  It also lead me to find support groups that are dealing with tough issues that are unique to children and adults with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

magic key       down syndrome and autism intersect

Please feel free to share this blog post and any others that I’ve written.¬† My goal is to enlighten, educate and provide support for parents, families, professionals on navigating the path for children and adults, with special needs.¬† Message me if I can be of help, and be sure to check out our social media sites below.¬† That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa ūüôā

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism

Instagram @nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

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

World Autism Awareness Day-April 2nd

World Autism Awareness Day-April 2nd

Autism Awareness Day

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day.¬† “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that affects a person‚Äôs ability to communicate and interact with others. More than 3.5 million Americans currently live with ASD, and 1 in 68 children are born with a variation of it.”¬† With this staggering statistic, it’s likely that you have encountered an individual on the autism spectrum.

Not just today, but the entire month of April is National Autism Awareness Month. During this month advocated seek to raise awareness,  understanding, acceptance, inclusion and self-determination for all individuals with ASD.

autism awareness 2016

One of the most famous and influential individuals with autism is Temple Grandin. “Temple Grandin is an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and autism spokesperson. She is one of the first individuals on the autism spectrum to publicly share insights from her personal experience of autism. She invented the ‘hug box’ device to calm those on the autism spectrum.”

Temple Grandin quote 2“Based on personal experience, Grandin advocates early intervention to address autism and supportive teachers, who can direct fixations of the child with autism in fruitful directions. She has described her hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory stimuli. She claims she is a primarily visual thinker, and has said that words are her second language. Temple attributes her success as a humane livestock facility designer to her ability to recall detail, which is a characteristic of her visual memory. Grandin compares her memory to full-length movies in her head, that may be replayed at will, allowing her to notice small details. She also is able to view her memories using slightly different contexts by changing the positions of the lighting and shadows.¬† Her insight into the minds of cattle has taught her to value the changes in details to which animals are particularly sensitive and to use her visualization skills to design thoughtful and humane animal-handling equipment.”¬† (Wikipedia)

On April 2nd and throughout this month, advocates ask that you promote autism awareness and acceptance on social media, and encourage community support and understanding for individuals and families living with autism.

World Autism Awareness Day and National Autism Awareness Month is a great time to advocate for understanding, acceptance and inclusion, it’s essential to advocate for children, and adults, with autism year-round.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa ūüôā

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

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

Blog #192~Down syndrome-Autism: Green Monday Gift Ideas

Blog #192~Down syndrome-Autism:Green Monday Gift Ideas

green-monday

It’s green Monday and just two weeks until Christmas.¬† Here are some gift ideas for individuals having Down syndrome (or a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, or other special needs) along with their caregivers, teachers/aids, and therapists.

http://papercloudsapparel.com/  Order T-shirts, hats and totes designed by artists with special needs

My son Nick, wearing a Paper Clouds Apparel shirt designed by Justin Lundeen…

nick fire truck shirt

https://www.riverbendgalleries.com/¬† Features the beautiful photography of artist, Geoffrey Mikol prints, framed art, calendars, coaster sets and greeting cards are available for purchase online….

Geoffrey Mikol picture    Geoffrey Mikol

http://specialsparkle.com Kelly is a young entrepreneur who has Down syndrome.¬† She designs and makes fashionable jewelry you can order online….

special sparkle jewelry

http://www.christianroyalpottery.com/pages/about ¬†Beautiful pottery (bowls, platters, plates, jewelry) by Christian Royal…..

 

 

One of the best gifts is an iPad and there are countless apps for learning and play.¬† If you are looking for a sturdy case, the Go Talk Rugged and Big Grip cases have held up the best….. ¬†

 

If your child has sensory needs, and likes to do a lot of dropping, check out these toys:

vortx-dropping-coins  marble racemagic-tracks-mega-set-360-piece--A817AA38.zoom

Gifts ideas in located in the archives, type this in the search box: Blog #131~Christmas Ideas for a Child With Special Needs…..

 

Gift ideas for babies and toddlers with Down syndrome: http://www.cedarsstory.com/?s=Best+Gift+Ideas

Noah’s Dad- Down syndrome Awareness Top 10 gifts for a 7 year old: http://noahsdad.com/7-year-old-gift-ideas/

Books for caregivers and families, here are a few suggestions and there are more listed in this Blog #144~ Inspiring Books Related to Down syndrome located in the archives……

 

Gifts book cover    Book An Uncomplicated Life  down syndrome and autism intersect

Please feel free to share this, and any of my blogs with others and on social media.¬† Also, check out my Pinterest page for more gift recommendations and other helpful information.¬†Do you have any gift suggestions? I’m always looking for unique gift ideas related to Down syndrome and autism to post on my website.¬† Nick and I wish you all the best as you are preparing to enjoy the holiday season.

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

~Teresa

Follow Nick on Social Media:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

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

Blog #191~Challenging Behaviors: Why is My Child Acting This Way?

Blog #191~Challenging Behaviors: Why is My Child Acting This Way?

behavior

Parents raising a child with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism experience challenging behaviors from their children.  A long holiday weekend can heighten these behaviors with changes in routine and family gatherings.  A child may feel lost in the mix and in need of attention.  They may also experience sensory overload.  These can be shown in a variety of ways, such as increased self-stimulatory/ repetitive behaviors (hand flapping, tapping, turning on water faucets, pushing buttons, shutting or slamming doors),  self-injury (head banging, biting, slapping self), attacking others and property destruction to name a few.  This week I want to focus on WHY a child may be acting out.  When you understand why this might be happening, you can put a better plan in place, in order to support your child.

The first step is to determine what the behavior means.  All behavior is communicating something.  This is where you have to do some detective work.

Detective-clipart-animation-free-images-2

Keeping a log of behaviors is a great tool to determine what purpose this is serving your child.¬† It’s helpful to use a Functional Behavior Assessment Form, such as this to gather data:

Functional Behavior Assessment

Data collection will assist you at home and the school IEP team on the who, what, where, when and why’s of the behavior.¬† What is this behavior trying to communicate?¬† What need is being expressed through these behaviors? ¬†Is there a pattern of when these behaviors are occurring and what is triggering them?

Ultimately the Functional Behavior Assessment, (also known as a FBA) will reveal what the purpose this behavior serves for the child.  

Let’s put this to use with two behaviors often associated with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism:

*Self-stimulatory or Repetitive Behaviors

*Injurious Behaviors

In the case of self-stimulatory or repetitive behaviors, a child may:

  1. Need more stimulation
  2. Be trying to masking sensory overload
  3. Be upset, anxious or not busy enough

Observe your child, and maybe even try the behavior yourself in order to get an idea of why they are attracted to it.  Repetitive behaviors are often sensory based.  They help to calm and organize the nervous system by releasing stress chemicals.  This in turn can help to reduce anxiety.

My son, Nick is 23 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.  He often uses tappers to help regulate his sensory needs.  Here he is at his adult day program:

Nick tappers AID

Bottom line, it’s important to respect these sensory needs and allow your child to have this time during the day.¬† Find a balance in building in these sensory breaks without letting them take over completely.¬† Self-stimulatory and repetitive behaviors should not¬† get in the way of learning, or in work jobs.¬† Keep in mind, especially around the holidays as you get busy with wrapping presents, cooking and cleaning the house that your child may be bored and feeling ignored.¬† It is necessary to provide some structured activities to reduce these behaviors.¬† I like to give my son jobs so he feels helpful, and rewarded for his appropriate behavior with lots of praise.¬† While I was getting the house ready for Thanksgiving, I had Nick vacuum for me, a job he enjoys doing.¬† It provides him with good sensory input using heavy work, which can be calming…

Nick vacumme thanksgiving

In the case of injurious behaviors a child may:

  1. Bang head, bite, slap themselves, attack others or destroy property
  2. Be frustrated, angry, experiencing discomfort, pain or sensory overload
  3. Communicate escaping and avoiding an unwanted task or event

Again, the Functional Behavior Assessment chart can help to determine if there is a certain activity, event or time of day which causes these behaviors to escalate.  As the detective, you want to uncover these triggers.  When you figure out these triggers, you can put supports in place to in essence, cut it off at the pass before your child goes into a full-blown meltdown.

Example- Family trip to the shopping mall:

The stimulus overload, especially around the holidays with added crowds,  more kiosks, noises, lights, and may be too much for a child with autism.  You many need to keep the trip short and provide visuals supports to help your child understand the sequence of events that will happen.

Task Strip for shopping mall trip….

task strip mall

Along with a visual schedule, you want to keep your eye open to any distress signals the child may exhibit in their body language.¬† My son will tend to pinch his cheeks when he is upset or stomp and say, “I’m mad”.¬† These signs are a cue to back off and lower the demands you are placing on your child.

In summation, you can support your child and prevent these injurious behaviors by:

  1. Recognizing distress signals and re-direct your child.
  2. Lowering or pulling away the demands that have been placed and causing your child to feel overwhelmed.
  3. Providing visual supports with task strips so they know the sequence of events.
  4. Teaching alternative ways to escape and unwanted situation by using visual supports with icons such as, “Stop” “Help” “All Done” and “I Need A Break”:Break Icon
  5. Practice teaching appropriate ways to protest separately in mild stress situations. Use the icons above either with visuals or on a communication device using lots of praise.

Understanding the function of your child’s behavior and creating an environment to support them will lead to success in both home, school and in the community.¬† If your child has challenging behaviors, seek the help of a trained autism behavior specialist.¬† You should request that a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) be done.¬† Once this data is collected, a Behavior Support Plan (also known as a BSP) can be created and put in the IEP. ¬† You and the school IEP team can brainstorm on what supports to put in place to help your child better succeed and express themselves more appropriately.

That’s what is in my noggin this week ūüôā

~Teresa

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down syndrome Awareness Month

DS-Awareness-Month

October is Down syndrome Awareness Month.¬† I’ve had the privilege of raising my son,¬† for the past 23 years.¬† Nick has Down syndrome and autism. He has touched my life, and those of so many others along the way.

nick-senior-alarm-pic

Down syndrome awareness is about promoting acceptance and inclusion of all individuals with Down syndrome.

FACTS about Down syndrome from National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS):

*Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

*There are three types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21 (nondisjunction) accounts for 95 percent of cases, translocation accounts for about 4 percent and mosaicism accounts for about 1 percent.

*Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.

*There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.

*Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.

*The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80 percent of children with Down syndrome are born to women younger than 35.

*People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.

*A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.

*Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades ‚ÄĒ from 25 years old in 1983 to 60 years old today.

*People with Down syndrome attend school, work and participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.

*All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.

*Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.

More information @http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/

NDSS_logo

Here are a few simple ways to promote Down syndrome awareness:

*Post something about Down syndrome on social media

*Send updates, pictures and tell your story to your family doctor and OB-gyn.

*Many local Down syndrome support groups have promotional materials, like books and bookmarks that can be distributed at libraries and schools.

*Many local DS support groups have public speakers who can talk to schools, businesses, community groups, hospitals, and other organizations.

*Support or volunteer for local fundraisers like the Buddy Walk in your community @http://www.ndss.org/buddy-walk/

*Encourage your kids to volunteer for Special Olympics and Best Buddies programs through their school.

Down syndrome journey

Thank you for supporting Down syndrome awareness this month!¬† That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Blog #172~ Autism:5 Ways You Can Help

Blog #172~ Autism: 5 Ways You Can Help

The aim of Autism Awareness Month, is to educate the public about autism.  How do you react when you see or meet a person that has autism?  Autism is a complex mental condition and developmental disability, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with other people.  People with autism are classed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the terms autism and ASD are often used interchangeably. A wide spectrum disorder, people will autism have set of symptoms unique to themselves; no two people are the same.

autism awareness 2016

My son Nick is 23 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS -ASD). During the month of April, I want to touch on autism awareness and acceptance.  Since the aim this month is to educate the public about autism, I would like to challenge you to open your mind and heart to individuals with autism, along with their families and caregivers.

photo (26)

Here are 5 easy things you can do to show acceptance and support for autism:

*Open your heart, give a smile to a family struggling out in public with a child or adult who has autism. Offer up good thoughts and prayers , for compassion, strength, patience and tolerance.

*Reach out, pay a compliment or offer help,¬†to a family who might be dealing with a difficult situation with their child.¬† “You have a¬†lovely family.” “You are a wonderful parent, I admire your patience.”¬†¬†If you encounter a¬†family going through¬†a tough time, such as a meltdown, or if the child is shutting down, ask them “What can I do to help?”

*Be a friend, make a phone call to check in, set up a coffee or lunch date, or offer to help out with carpooling or running an errand.  Bring a bottle of wine or a Starbucks latte, over and chat.  Many parents may not get a chance to speak to other adults on a daily basis and often feel isolated.

*Teach your child about inclusivity. ¬†Invite¬†a classmate with¬†autism, over for a play date or to your child’s birthday party.¬† Show that they are genuinely¬†welcome, even if¬†their child¬†can only tolerate a¬†short time.¬† Look into inclusion opportunities for your child at school like lunch buddy or peer partner programs and volunteering for Special Olympics.¬† These are all ways to teach your child to be kind and compassionate.

It’s great to see that¬†Sesame Street¬†just added a new muppet, Julia who has autism!

Julia Sesame Street

*Stand up and advocate, if you overhear someone saying something inconsiderate about autism or any other disability, speak up. Some people may not understand the unusual behaviors exhibited by individuals with autism. Some of these behaviors are sensory related. For example rocking and hand flapping is a coping mechanism that helps organize the brain.  Some individuals with autism become overwhelmed in stimulating environments. This may lead to a person shutting down or having a meltdown. Better understanding of such behaviors and their causes, leads to  You can help advocate by sharing information about autism on your social media.

Awareness and acceptance means¬†allowing yourself and teaching others to be¬†open, compassionate and kind.¬† Acceptance is not¬†about¬†tolerating others that are different from you.¬† It is about valuing our differences as human beings,¬†and seeing the heart and strengths that lies in each of us.¬† That’s what is in my noggin during Autism Awareness Month.

~Teresa ūüôā

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram @ #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

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

Nick’s World Update

¬†Nick’s World Update

Have you settled into 2017 yet, after the busy holiday season?¬†¬†I’m so¬†happy to be back to share Nick’s world with you!¬† Nick is 22 years old, and has Down syndrome and autism.¬† Here are some of the highlights of Big Guy’s holiday fun.

We spent the holidays at home,¬†here in Chicago. Nick enjoyed seeing family.¬† He’s always happy to see his brother, Hank and share elbow bumps!

nick-and-bro-x-mas

Kibbie¬†had a very “Meowy Christmas”¬†ūüôā

kibbie-stockings

Nick was excited to get a new iPad mini.  The new Big Grip case for the iPad mini is called the Big Grip Tweener.  It is much slimmer, more age appropriate in design, and best of all still protects as well as the original Big Grip case.

big-grip-tweener

Nick¬†relishes a nice reflective bag¬†almost as much,¬†as his new iPad mini ūüôā

nick-red-bag

Over the holidays, we entertained family and friends.  Nick is use to a certain schedule in the evenings.  It can be tricky to get him to stretch out the time, once the sun goes down. He was very patient and social during happy hour, and a leisurely dinner.  Inevitably, once the meal is over, he wastes no time.  He springs up, grabs his Little Debbie snack cakes and evening meds, then sets them on the kitchen island.  After dessert, he will beeline upstairs, strips off his clothes and is ready for a shower.

beelinne-pic

At the family gathering,¬† we tried stalling¬†him while the¬†desserts were being passed and the coffee was brewing.¬† I made the mistake of¬†setting the¬†Swiss Cake Rolls¬†and meds off¬†to the side for just¬†a few more minutes.¬† Nick would have no part of this, and let it be known.¬† He took his iPad mini and¬†did a huge karate chop right into the……

nick-pumpkin-pie

Nick was done!¬† We deflected the incident with an “uh-oh” comment and swiftly got his snack cakes¬†back, to avoid a meltdown.¬† Sometimes, you have to compromise on your holiday schedule, and respect your child’s need¬†to keep¬†a consistent routine.

After the holidays, Al and I went on¬†his company’s year in trip incentive¬†to Costa Rica.¬† Nick was in very good hands with his respite care giver, Jodi. There was a good amount of¬†logistics to do¬†when leaving your child with a caregiver.¬† We put together temporary custody, child care and medical authorization agreements along with a detailed schedule.¬† In addition,¬† I prepared a social story so that he could see the change in routine and his schedule.¬† Here it is in part, below.¬† Social stories help to give the blueprint for understanding schedules and what each day will bring.¬† For more on using visual schedules,¬†check out¬†my last post,¬†Blog #164~Why Use a¬†Visual Schedule?

costa-rica-social-story

Nick had so much fun with Jodi going out to eat and hanging out at home. His other respite care giver, Miss R. also took him out over the weekend. We are blessed to have such caring, capable, and patient women to take such great care of Nick.

Want more pictures and videos of Nick?  Check out our social media sites. Follow Nick: Facebook @Down syndrome With a Slice of Autism, Instagram  #nickdsautism, Twitter @ #tjunnerstall

nick-taco-bell-new

All in all, the holidays and extended vacation afterwards went smoothly,  with only a dented pumpkin pie, and a few more attention seeking behaviors.  Most of these included higher incidences of dropping/ throwing things, turning water faucets on, and peeing on the floor next to the toilet.  Those behaviors are to be expected with busy holiday meal and house preparations,  a house full of company, and changes in routine.

Oh, one more thing, Nick managed to pull another fire alarm on ¬†Friday the 13th. That is,¬†the¬†ultimate attention seeking behavior!¬† Tally count is now at 43 pulls since third grade.¬†Hey, it’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up.

Here’s to getting back to a regular routine and settling into 2017.¬† That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

 

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Education and Special Needs, Feeding, Personal Hygiene, Toileting, Parenting Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #164~Why Use a Visual Schedule?

doctor-checkup

Blog #164~Why Use a Visual Schedule?

We all hate getting lost, it can be aggravating¬† and nervewracking. That’s why we use maps to help navigate our way.

mapquest

The same is true for a child with special needs who lacks verbal and cognitive skills.  Providing a visual schedule allows your child to see what is going to happen in their day. My son, Nick is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism. Visual schedules provide many benefits for him to travel smoothly, through his daily routine.

Nick fist bump AID

Benefits of Using a Visual Schedule:

*Provides structure and predictability by showing a child what is coming up next.  This greatly reduces anxiety and builds confidence.

*Helps with transitions from one activity to the next.

*Picture form is easier to understand than verbal instructions.  Children with autism often comprehend pictures and/or written directions easier than verbal cues alone.

*Helps to teach sequence of events especially when using words, “first”, “next”, and “last”.

*Expedites learning routines and fosters independence in self-help/hygiene skills and household/school jobs.

handwashing-routine

*Helps with time management and literacy development by reading through pictures and words associated with them.

*Improves conversation skills by giving a visual framework of what they did and what was their favorite part of the end of the day.

*Assists teachers and caregivers with routine changes, when things get out of sync.  It also helps to introduce a new and/or different activity.

dentist-checkup-visual

Visual schedules come in all shapes and forms and many are available in Google images.  You can adjust the length and type of images, (PECS-Picture Exchange System, photos, written words,  iPad/ smart phone apps) to what your child will most easily understand.

first-then-app

It’s best to start with a small routine and adapt the schedules based on your child’s needs and abilities.¬†Try pairing a non-preferred activity (first) followed by a preferred choice (next).¬†¬†Your child’s speech therapist can be of great help in creating picture sequences that would fit their needs.

Going through a visual schedule with your child, helps them understand what is going to happen, and what behavior you expect.

Here is one we use when going to the mall.  Note the visual below has going to the stores (first)  and Taco Bell (next) as the preferred activity.

IMG_3865

Sequence for going to church:

photo (106)

Full Day Schedule: ( Note, this could be broken up in separate pieces if this would be to overwhelming).

visual-schedule-for-a-day

Using visual schedules have been shown to be helpful for children and adults with special needs¬†by giving them¬†more control on what goes on in their daily lives.¬† It provides the road map to navigate for a smooth ride through their daily routines.¬† That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa ūüôā

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