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

100 Facts About Autism

100 Facts About Autism

autism did you know

April is Autism Awareness Month, but it’s much more than promoting awareness. Individuals with autism, their caregivers, and advocates want to encourage better understanding, inclusion and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Here is a quick and easy read of 100 facts about autism, that you can finish in less than 10 minutes:

https://nickspecialneeds.com/2018/04/23/blog-203-100-facts-about-autism/

When we have a better understanding about autism, we can help to promote acceptance and inclusion for individuals with ASD. Much can be gained in our society when we begin to accept people for who they are, and understand and embrace their differences.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow my son Nick (dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, DS-ASD):

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

Autism Awareness Month,5 Ways You Can Help

Autism Awareness Month, 5 Ways You Can Help

autism awareness 2016

April is Autism Awareness Month, but it’s much more than promoting awareness.  Individuals with autism, their caregivers, and advocates want to encourage better understanding, inclusion and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Here are 5 easy ways you can help promote awareness, understanding, inclusion and acceptance for individuals with autism:

https://nickspecialneeds.com/tag/autism-5-ways-you-can-help/

Each of us can do our part to help individuals with autism feel more welcomed in their communities. Much can be gained in our society, when we begin to accept people for who they are, and understand and embrace their differences.

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

~Teresa

Follow my son Nick (dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism,DS-ASD):

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 Day-April 2nd

World Autism Day- April 2nd

World-Autism-Awareness-Day_ss_323229098

On April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day, we celebrate and recognize individuals on the autism spectrum, and promote fundraising and researching initiatives. In addition, this day is about promoting awareness and inclusivity for people with autism across the globe.

April is National Autism Awareness Month to promote autism awareness, understanding, acceptance and inclusion, drawing attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.

Click here to read more about World Autism Awareness Day and National Autism Awareness Month: 

https://nickspecialneeds.com/2018/04/02/world-autism-awareness-day/

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 🙂

Follow my son Nick (DS-ASD):

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

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

DS-ASD,How to Manage Throwing and Dropping Behaviors

DS-ASD, How to Manage Throwing and Dropping Behaviors

Over the weekend I read several posts on Facebook dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD) groups.  Many parents were seeking help and guidance.  Their big question was- How to manage throwing and dropping behaviors?  My son Nick is 25 years old.  He has  a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD, and his fair share of these two behaviors.  Short of waving a magic wand, these undesirable behaviors can be curtailed with behavior management.

magic wand (2)

The first step is to determine what function the target behavior is serving.  When you can decipher what purpose the behavior has for a child, and when these occur, you and the IEP team can come up with a plan for behavior management. A behavior support plan (BSP) can outline strategies and replacement behaviors that are more suitable and desired both at school and home.

You can read more about how identify the function of behaviors and put a positive behavior support plan in place for dropping and throwing by clicking on the following link:

https://nickspecialneeds.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/blog-3-getting-your-goat/

This is one of the first blogs that I wrote back in 2012, that provides a blueprint on how we managed the throwing and dropping behaviors with my son, Nick. Blog #3~DS-ASD Getting your goat, still happens to be one of my favorites, to this day. 🙂

The current status of dropping and throwing behaviors with my son varies from day-to-day.  The function is still boredom and attention seeking and somewhat sensory related, when we as his parents, are busy around the house. Since 2012, Nick has more jobs around the house like recycling, unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, and helping to roll the garbage and recycling bins to the  curb. Heavy work activities are part of a good sensory diet that are calming and organizing to the brain. I still have to remind myself not to let Nick get my goat.  But instead, I try my best to respond, and not react.  I highly recommend this great resource book, by David S. Stein, Psy. D., to learn more about behavior management:  

Book Supporting Positive Behavior DS

Behavior management can help decrease the incidences of negative behaviors such as throwing and dropping in children, teens and adults with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD).  Collaborate with the IEP team and a certified BCBA therapist to do the detective work with a functional behavior assessment (FBA) that can lead to a positive behavior support plan (BSP).  Remember always try to respond and not react, when your child is trying to get your goat.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism

Instagram #nickdsaustism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

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

DS-ASD~Evaluating Your Child’s Progress Mid School Year

DS-ASD~Evaluating Your Child’s Progress Mid School Year

progress report

Spring is right around the corner. This is a good time to check in and see how your child is progressing with IEP goals and behavior. A child with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD), may have additional deficits in speech and challenging behaviors.

Mid-year is a critical time to re-evaluate the teaching methods and current goals set in place, to help your child succeed. Here are five things parents can do now, to take action before the school year ends: https://nickspecialneeds.com/2018/03/12/blog-199take-action-before-the-school-year-ends/

Keep the lines of communication open with school staff, review IEP goals and progress and collaborate with the IEP team to ensure supports are in place so your child will have a strong finish to the school year.  Checking on your child’s progress will help you and the school staff be on the same page at the next IEP meeting.

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

DS-ASD~Getting Additional Services and Support to Help Your Child

DS-ASD~Getting Additional Services and Support to Help Your Child

Are you a parent of a child with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD)?  Or do you have a child that you suspect may have an additional diagnosis of autism along with Down syndrome?  My son, Nick is 25 years old and has a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD.  When we got the secondary diagnosis of autism, our son was able to receive additional support and services both in school and home.

This week, I want to share some of the additional services, support and resources that has helped us to navigate the dual diagnosis of DS-ASD with our son, Nick.

down syndrome and autism bracelet

Click on the following link to learn more: 

https://nickspecialneeds.com/2016/09/12/blog-155more-than-just-down-syndrome/

Navigating the path of a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD with your child has its challenges.  But there are many services, supports and resources that can enable parents and educators to help a child with DS-ASD.  Obtaining these services does take patience and tenacity, and it doesn’t happen overnight. (In fact, getting these services and supports took several years for us.)  But all of these tools will better equip you as a parent to take on the secondary diagnosis of autism, along with Down syndrome.

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

DS-ASD~Teaching Job and Functional Living Skills

DS-ASD~Teaching Job and Functional Living Skills

There are many jobs and functional living skills that can be taught to individuals who have a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD).  My son Nick is 25 years old and has several jobs both at home and in his adult developmental training day program.

Nick working at his day program….

Nick cleaning aid

Nick helping out at home…

Nick vacumme thanksgiving

One of the keys to unlocking your child’s potential, is to look at their interests and strengths.  Figure out what motivates them, and build jobs around those areas.  To read how to teach job and functional living skills click on the link below:

https://nickspecialneeds.com/2017/07/31/blog-179down-syndrome-and-autism-unlocking-your-childs-potential/

It’s never to early to start teaching job and functional living skills.  Start small and build around the interests and strengths of the individual.  Include lots of praise and rewards.  These skills will help to develop confidence and independence.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

nick-senior-alarm-pic

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

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: https://nickspecialneeds.com/?s=blog+%23229

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:

https://nickspecialneeds.com/2014/06/23/blog-10020-tidbits-about-nick/

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, Behavior/ ABA, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Blog #229~DS-ASD Winter Update

Blog #229~DS-ASD Winter Update

Chicago winter 2019

This winter weather has been bitter and harsh, here in Chicago.  Fortunately, we missed the plummeting temperatures last week, while vacationing in Vail, Colorado.  My son, Nick is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD).  Here’s an update on what Nick’s been up to this winter and the highlights of our trip to Vail.

The weather in Vail was mild, with temperatures in the 35-40 degree range and plenty of sunshine.  There is something to be said about sunlight and how it can elevate your mood.  The clear blue skies, warm sun, fresh air, and beautiful mountain views, can do wonders for the soul.

Vail sunset 2019

Nick enjoyed his time with our friends in Vail.  The village is always a fun place to visit.  Here’s Nick at lunch and with his Dad, Al :)…..

 

The highlight of the week, for Nick was dog sledding.  This is the second year we’ve done this with Mountain Mushers, who offer the best dog sledding rides in the Vail Valley.  Nick was happy to see his buddy, Cameron who was our dog sled musher last year.  He always gets such a kick seeing all the happy dogs, who bark with excitement as the sleds loaded up.

All bundled up in the sled and ready to go, and guess what, he actually kept his hat and gloves on this time.  Yay Nick! 🙂

 

The scenic trail was packed with alot more snow this year, making the ride faster. His favorite part is when the sled goes over the bumps and flies down the hills. Nick is a thrill seeker, who always signs “more” when a roller coaster ride is over.  He also loves the Disney movie Snow Dogs, so this was a perfect blend of his favorite things.  Towards the end of the ride, his Dad got to try his hand at mushing.  Check out the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter links below to see videos of them dog sledding in action all this week. 🙂 

Today it’s a balmy 50 degrees here in Chicago, and Nick has returned to his adult developmental training day program.  It’s hard to believe the turn around in temperatures……

Chicago temp difference

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Nick attends a day program that he truly enjoys.  The adult developmental training program curriculum includes functional and academic work activities, crafts, exercise, cooking, entertainment, and community outings.  The staff reports that Nick has so much potential and does awesome at the learning centers and work choices.  They have a lot of fun, especially over the holidays. Activities included a big Christmas lunch, wearing ugly sweaters, listening to a local high school choir and making wreaths, gingerbread houses and pillows.

Here’ s a no sew pillow that Nick made…..

nick pillow

If you look closely in the picture above, you might notice a stop icon on the dishwasher.  There are many of these stop signs on the start buttons around our house.  Individuals with a diagnosis of autism can benefit from the use of icons, to better guide their days.  Nick has a thing for pushing buttons and fire alarms.  His behavior support plan (BSP) addresses the fire alarm pulling.  Twice each day, the staff at his day program take him on a walk down the hallways.  They encourage and cue him to “keep walking” with “hands to self”.  Before these walks, the staff reads his social story that contains pictures of how to  navigate these hall walks.  Upon successful completion, Nick earns a reward.

Click on this link to learn more about the BSP and his social story: https://nickspecialneeds.com/tag/social-stories/

That wraps up Nick’s world and what he’s been up to this winter.  Navigating a dual diagnosis of  DS-ASD has it’s good and bad days.  Fortunately, the good days now outweigh the bad.  I think it’s both maturity on Nick’s part, along with the wisdom and understanding gained from being his parent.  Big guy has a milestone birthday coming up, I look forward to sharing more with you next Monday!  What is one thing that Nick has taught you over the past 24+ years?  I’d love to hear your feedback. 🙂

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 

Follow Nick on Social Media to see more pics and videos:

Nick head shot in vail

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism and more on dog sledding #mountainmushers

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

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

Blog #228~DS-ASD and Managing Stress as a Parent

Blog #228~DS-ASD and Managing Stress as a Parent

Let’s face it, parenting is stressful with all the demands that are draining on a daily basis.  Raising a child with special needs compounds this even further.  A child with an intellectual or developmental disability such as autism, Down syndrome or a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD) has even more demands, with living skills, communication and behavior.  These additional needs means the parent has to work even harder.  This can drain parents both physically and emotionally.  I have been dealing with this stress for 24 years, as my son Nick has a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD.  Here is what the stress looks like for a parent of a child with special needs, and some coping mechanisms to combat it.

stress ball

So what does stress look like for parents raising a child with special needs?  Yes, there are the usual demands of running the household, carpools, extra curricular activities and homework of the child and any siblings, but there is much more.  There are often additional therapy and medical appointments on the calendar each week.  Balancing this with all the other activities can be tricky, with someone feeling short-changed in the family.  As I mentioned earlier, a child with special needs may need additional help with daily living skills, communication and behavior management.  If a child is non-verbal or limited in speech, the parent may have to play the guessing game on what the child needs. Deficits in communication skills can often lead to behavior problems.  Maladaptive behaviors may prevent the family from doing activities, attending outside family gatherings and special events together.  One parent may opt to stay home with the child, which over time, may impact the marital relationship.  This also creates a sense of isolation.  All of this can lead to feelings of guilt by the parent, which is one of the biggest internal stressors.

So, how can you manage stress as a parent of a child with DS-ASD or any other intellectual or developmental disability?  Ideally, a parent would schedule a vacation or spa weekend getaway, right?  But what if you don’t have the time or resources for such an elaborate indulgence?

spa getaway

Stress Management in my opinion, begins with mindfulness.  Carving out a few minutes for yourself is key.  Dedicate a time where you can meditate.  Free your mind of all distractions and breathe deeply.  This will allow the heart rate and blood pressure to lower and reduce stress.  Last week, I had lunch with my niece, who recently returned from a spiritual cycling journey and yoga retreat overseas.  We talked about the concept of truly being present in the moment.  The focus can be as simple as being aware of your senses……..

Step outside notice how the sun and warm breeze feel on your face. 

Quiet yourself and enjoy the texture and taste of each bit while you eat.  Take in the aroma and softness against your fingers, as you bite into the pita bread.

Listen and feel how the snow crunches under your feet, take in the cool air and watch as you exhale, seeing your breath rise up into the blue sky.

Sit silently, maybe with your child or pet, feel the softness and listen to your breaths.  Do nothing,  just be as one.

Put on your favorite music.  Focus on the beat, various musical instruments, vocal tones, and harmonies.  Note the meaning of the lyrics, and how it all  feels to your body, mind and soul.

Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the moment that you are in right now, and freeing yourself from worry.  Spending time in the present and focusing on your senses, will allow you to feel less tense.

Pairing mindfulness with gratitude cancels out negative thoughts and worries.  Some days can be challenging and exhausting.  In those times, remind yourself that there is always something or someone to be grateful for.  Showing gratitude can boost morale for  yourself and others.

Taking time to get physical activity in daily can greatly reduces the effects that stress can take on the body.  Even small bursts of exercise, taking a fitness class or a walk around the block can make a difference on how you feel.

It is also important to reach out and share what is going on with friends, family and support groups.  Isolation can be debilitating.  Sharing your struggles can give you a fresh perspective.  There is much to be gained in finding a support group of like-minded individuals who are on a similar path.  In the DS-ASD world, we share success stories, challenges of our child’s delays, and difficult behaviors.  We offer suggestions on how to find a better way to manage the unique challenges associated with our kids and applaud the milestones they hit.  When you share your struggles, (and do so with a dose of humor), you don’t feel alone anymore.  That can be a powerful thing.

Reducing stress doesn’t have to be a big, fancy trip or getaway.  Taking time to exercise mindfulness, gratitude, doing some type of physical activity, and opening yourself up to others, are all simple ways to reduce anxiety.  Allowing people to come in your life for support, will help make difficulties more manageable. Most of all, it’s essential to take some time and find ways to relax your mind. This allows you to re-charge and lessen the degree to which stress can affect the body and mind.

let yourself rest

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

~Teresa

Follow Nick on Social Media:

Facebook and Pinterest at Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall